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Russell Westbrook's defense helps Thunder beat Clippers

by Darnell Mayberry Published: March 21, 2012

/articleid/3659675/1/pictures/1675188">Photo - Oklahoma City's Derek Fisher (37) defends on Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul (3) during the NBA basket ball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Wednesday, March 21, 2012 in Oklahoma City, Okla.  Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma City's Derek Fisher (37) defends on Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul (3) during the NBA basket ball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Wednesday, March 21, 2012 in Oklahoma City, Okla. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman

To understand how effective the Thunder was Wednesday, you first must flash back to Jan. 30 and remember that the Clippers had eight dunks in their 112-100 runaway victory over the Thunder. Paul registered assists on five of those throw downs, carving up OKC with lob passes and bounce passes alike. This time, the Clippers had just two dunks, none coming from the human highlight himself, Blake Griffin.

“I came in and tried to defend,” Westbrook said. “Last time in L.A., they got the best of us of getting in the paint and throwing lobs and things like that. And I tried to prevent that tonight.”

One of several Thunder players who never is satisfied with his individual performance, Westbrook chided himself for not getting a single steal of all things. But everyone inside the locker room knew the impact he had just provided.

“He was really focused, and he was great for us,” Collison said. “When he can control the point of the ball, we're so much better defensively.”

The Thunder held the Clippers to 36.7 percent shooting, the first time since Feb. 23 that Oklahoma City has held an opponent to less than 40 percent shooting. Not coincidentally, that performance was against the Lakers, which was the last opponent that got the Thunder's best shot just before the All-Star break began and this current inconsistency kicked in.

“It seems like it's been a while since we've had 48 minutes of consistent defensive pressure on the basketball,” Brooks said.

by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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