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Thunder chat: Darnell Mayberry talks about Russell Westbrook's minutes, the Thunder defense and the 'death' of Jeremy Lamb

by Darnell Mayberry Published: March 17, 2014
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NewsOK Sports 10:01 a.m. Thanks for joining us on the Power Lunch chat. Darnell will be on at 11 a.m., but you can get your questions in now.
Darnell Mayberry 11:00 a.m. Greetings, ladies and gents.
dr. el prez 11:00 a.m. Darnell, during the Laker broadcast on TNT, I was surprised to hear Chris Webber and Kevin Harlan talking about the piece you wrote in regards to selfishness with some of the team. Just curious, did they talk to you in regards to this, or just go with this on their own after talking to some team members? Caught me off guard listening because I was surprised to hear national guys talking about this on the air.
Darnell Mayberry 11:01 a.m. Nobody talked to me. I assumed those guys just did a little reading to stay on top of what's going on and came across it. But it was a blowout by the time they mentioned it. They had to talk about something.
adam 11:01 a.m. Why would the Thunder decide to bench Westbrook for a home game and play him for an away game? It seems like you would want a win for the Home crowd, instead the Thunder laid down last night pulling all the started in the fourth. Wouldn't you want to reward your faithful season ticket holders with wins and the best players possible?
Darnell Mayberry 11:02 a.m. It's a good question, Adam. One I do not have an answer for. As I blogged after the game, my best guess is the Thunder might have felt like it could handle a poor defensive Mavs squad at home without Westbrook but needed him for a tough-minded defensive Bulls squad in Chicago.
Shawn 11:02 a.m. I didn't see the whole game, but when I saw KD on Monta Ellis, I liked his defensive effort. In the home stretch of the season with an MVP on the line, will KD finally become the defensive spark plug he has the potential to be?
Darnell Mayberry 11:03 a.m. It's a little late in the game to start now. Ideally, KD would have played great defense all season. He showed a lot of growth on that end this season, but I doubt he'll take it up another notch in this final stretch just to secure MVP votes.
Jonathan 11:04 a.m. Hi Darnell, do you think Scott Brooks is losing the faith of his players?
Darnell Mayberry 11:04 a.m. No. I think this team is adjusting to a lot of things, like adversity, new players and new roles.
Guest 11:04 a.m. What does it mean by getting stops?
Darnell Mayberry 11:05 a.m. Stopping the other team from scoring.
Guest 11:05 a.m. Why are the warriors called dubs?
Darnell Mayberry 11:05 a.m. "W"
Guest 11:05 a.m. Defense defense is an issue. And now bench is an issue...will they solve the problem come playoffs?
Darnell Mayberry 11:06 a.m. I think this team will look much different in the playoffs. The coasting and carefree play you're seeing now will be a distant memory come playoff time. That's my guess.
Guest 11:06 a.m. Reggie lamb,RIP...
Darnell Mayberry 11:08 a.m. Don't write that eulogy just yet. I think they might have more to offer this season. But it's going to be tough for Jeremy Lamb. He might be doomed by the presence of Fish and Butler.
Guest 11:08 a.m. I m worried about the bench,they are so inconsistent and I hope they will not let the team down in the playoffs
Darnell Mayberry 11:09 a.m. It's a legitimate concern at this point. But that group played great early in the season. I think they can get back to it once the rotation continuity returns.
Guest 11:09 a.m. Are thunder in a panic mode now?how would u rate on a scale of 1-10? I think they are now because of how competitive the west conference is. I can see clippers overtake thunder for second seed
Darnell Mayberry 11:11 a.m. These guys don't panic. At least I haven't seen it since the start of the 2010-11 season. They thrive on pressure and seem to play their best when their backs are against the wall. So, on a scale of 1-10, I'd say the people on and with the team are at about a 3. They know there's work to be done. But they also know two starters are out and there's time left to get things going back in the right direction.
Manny 11:11 a.m. Brooks switching man defense is not good and should be replaced by man to man, your thought?
Darnell Mayberry 11:13 a.m. Switching definitely has it's place. And it's worked wonders in the past. So you can't say it's suddenly not good now. But there are times when it seems like everyone isn't on the same page, like they don't know when to switch and when to not switch. It's left shooters open at times, and that has burned the team's defense. Shoring up those communication problems should be the first step. But I would like to see each individual take more pride in stopping their man without relying so much on switching.
Guest 11:13 a.m. Just some casual questions,do u think KD can score 60+-70+ in the future?or maybe Russ with 50+. I want serge to get 40+ after watching AD last night
Darnell Mayberry 11:15 a.m. I definitely think KD can and will score 60 at some point soon. His biggest problem is his team has been too good to allow him a chance to get there. He sits the fourth quarters when the Thunder goes up big. But it's going to happen As for Westbrook, he had 40-plus in a Finals game. So he certainly can get to 50 in a regular season game. But he'll have to be on that night,especially from downtown.
Manny 11:15 a.m. The three small ball is passé for this type of tall players NBA, what's has Brooks have to show for it?
Darnell Mayberry 11:16 a.m. Are you saying you don't like this team's small ball lineup?
Guest 11:16 a.m. Given how stacked the west is,I have problem seeing thunder making out of the first round lol
Darnell Mayberry 11:16 a.m. We shall see. I don't see them slipping past the third seed, and I don't see them losing to Golden State, Portland or Memphis in the first round.
Manny 11:17 a.m. With Brooks, Durant, Reggie and Westbrook are lazy defensive players, why does Brooks not tolerate it?
Darnell Mayberry 11:18 a.m. I don't think they're lazy. I just think they're inconsistent. All three have the gifts to be dominant defenders. But they've been protected for a long time with the safety net that is Thabo Sefolosha. I look at the players and hold them accountable for their inconsistency on that end, not Brooks.
Michael 11:18 a.m. What seed do you see the Thunder ending up with in the WCP?
Darnell Mayberry 11:19 a.m. Either first or second. At this point, I'm leaning toward second.
Guest 11:19 a.m. I loved watching when the bench shows up in the court especially Reggie and Lambo but now....
Darnell Mayberry 11:19 a.m. They're young players still. Give them time. They'll figure it out.
Manny 11:20 a.m. Too many shooting by the stars and not many passes to open players often end up ganging up on either Durant, Westbrook or Reggie, as they, including Brooks are unmasked by other teams, has Brooks have any other pla?
Darnell Mayberry 11:21 a.m. The team is at its best when it moves the ball and gets everyone involved. Brooks has preached that for years. The players have done a much better job of trusting the pass and each other more this season. Let's not let a few games cloud our view.
Guest 11:21 a.m. Who is mustafa shakur?when did thunder sign him?
Darnell Mayberry 11:22 a.m. 6-3 point guard out of Arizona. Played in the D-League with the Tulsa 66ers this year Signed Sunday to provide some relief while Westbrook sits in back-to-back sets.
Manny 11:22 a.m. Are the Thunder just an ordinary team with their jump shooting, no drive to the basket to get fouls or is the Thunder a soft team?
Darnell Mayberry 11:23 a.m. They get to the rim plenty, especially when Westbrook is in the lineup. When he's not, that's when things get ugly. And Durant gets to the foul line a ton. So I don't see either as a problem.
Guest 11:24 a.m. The bench will take some time to be fine,I m sure. It's just like how adjust without Russ and how with him,they are a couple of trade and signing that's y the bench is inconsistent
Darnell Mayberry 11:24 a.m. Agreed.
Manny 11:24 a.m. I believe this will be the last year of Brooks, if he has not got his act together, even if you think otherwise, can he change?
Darnell Mayberry 11:24 a.m. I disagree. And he has changed. Look at all the young guys he's playing this season. That's one obvious difference in him this year.
Manny 11:25 a.m. I just cannot bear to see the Thunder small players being muscled beneath the rim by taller players and Brooks still can't see that, he needs more taller player for rebounds, blocks and put backs, your opinion?
Darnell Mayberry 11:25 a.m. Who are those players?
Brant 11:26 a.m. At one point this season, we saw Lamb bringing the ball up the court and initiating the offense. He seemed to really distribute the ball. I bet he would make a great backup point guard next season. Any thoughts on this possibility?
Darnell Mayberry 11:26 a.m. I highly doubt he's read for that type of role.
Guest 11:26 a.m. Darnell, part of the problem these 10ish games seems like Thunder don't deal with players moving in an out of the lineup that well. Is this a byproduct of the remarkable stability they had till Russ went down? Or is it the lack of a "System"?
Darnell Mayberry 11:29 a.m. I think it's both. Shuffling players in and out doesn't help anyone establish a rhythm, and not having a structured offense outside of a bevy of ball screens doesn't help role players know when and where their shots are coming. But the defense has been the biggest problem in these last 10 or 11 games. That's mostly effort.
Guest 11:29 a.m. The Thunder are now at risk of sliding to #3 seed, which would mean losing homecourt advantage to the Clips. Getting thru Clips and Spurs should provide pressure. More pressure than what they can handle based on recent results.
Darnell Mayberry 11:30 a.m. I still say they're better than both of those teams in a seven-game series.
E.Flame 11:30 a.m. Why are people going into panic mode about resting Russ. Pristi said when he returned that they evaluate his available in back to back situations. And not only that but when he came back the first time We did not sit him & he needed another surgery.
Darnell Mayberry 11:32 a.m. Well, the Thunder did sit him in a home game against Utah. And he still needed a second procedure. But given how things have gone with Westbrook, as well as how he's played lately, I can understand the concern.
Stan 11:34 a.m. Do you believe that the benching of Lamb is destroying his confidence? I believe he should start at shooting guard what are your thoughts?
Darnell Mayberry 11:34 a.m. I don't think it's destroying his confidence. I think his confidence has probably taken a hit. But it's also driving him to be better. And I would like to see Lamb start as well.
Darnell Mayberry 11:35 a.m. Thanks for joining us today. Enjoy the game tonight.
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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