Oklahoma City Thunder: Time for Kevin Durant to play like it's Rucker Park

COMMENTARY -- Without victory Monday night, the Thunder season teeters on a cliff with little chance of survival. Here's plan for how Oklahoma City can avoid that fate.
by Berry Tramel Modified: May 13, 2013 at 8:17 am •  Published: May 12, 2013

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Give Scotty Brooks credit. He's not playing it by the book.

Hasheem Thabeet plays 12 minutes one game, DeAndre Liggins eight the next. Kendrick Perkins plays 34 minutes in Game 1, half that in Game 3.

Nick Collison and Thabo Sefolosha combined for fewer minutes than Reggie Jackson all by his lonesome in Game 3.

And Kevin Durant spent almost seven minutes of court time with his primary defensive assignment guarding 7-foot-1 Marc Gasol.

Strange series. Strange times in Thunderland.

And OKC-Memphis Game 4 arrives Monday night with the naked truth that without victory, the Thunder season stands on cliff's edge, with little chance of survival; 4.1 percent chance to be exact. Only eight of 194 teams down 3-1 in a seven-game series have advanced.

The Grizzlies' oppressive defense is to blame. That and Russell Westbrook's absence. The Thunder can't do anything about the latter and has done little about the former.

The NBA's second-best offense during the regular season — 110.2 points per 100 possessions — has been bad and getting worse against the Griz: a 93-91 victory, a 99-93 defeat and an 87-81 defeat.

That 110.2 points per 100 possessions means 1.1 points per possession. The Thunder has averaged 1.01, 1.03 and 0.86 against Memphis. Maybe it's time Foreman Scotty pulled out all the stops.

Two words. Rucker Park.

Maybe it's time the Thunder quit trying to find some help for Durant. Maybe it's time Durant pulled himself out of the running for Sportsman of the Year. Maybe it's time Durant went all Rucker Park.

Back in August 2011, during the NBA lockout, Durant played on the legendary Harlem outdoor court and scored 66 points with a shooting display that went viral on the Internet.

They don't play Memphis defense at Rucker Park. But Durant was in no mood to pass that night across the street from the old Polo Grounds, and that's the attitude the Thunder might need to beat the Grizzlies.

“I never complain about Kevin shooting,” Brooks said. “The only time I complain is when he passes up a good shot to give his teammate a good shot.”


by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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