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Thunder fans give Russell Westbrook a hand — and he answers back

BY MIKE SHERMAN, Sports Editor, msherman@opubco.com Published: December 30, 2011
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photo - Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook (0) takes the ball on a fast break after a steal in the fourth quarter during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Dallas Mavericks at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011. In the background Shawn Marion (0) of Dallas. Oklahoma City won, 104-102. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook (0) takes the ball on a fast break after a steal in the fourth quarter during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Dallas Mavericks at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011. In the background Shawn Marion (0) of Dallas. Oklahoma City won, 104-102. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

Don't go calling this Thunder season “special,” yet.

Even after Kevin Durant's buzzer-beater from somewhere near the Oklahoma River gave the Thunder a 104-102 victory over Dallas, coach Scott Brooks cautioned against it in his postgame news conference. So I'll abide by his wishes for at least a couple more games.

But feel free to pick your own superlative about what happened at the Peake Thursday night in the fourth quarter.

Brooks certainly did.

And no, I'm not just talking about, “The Shot.”

I'm talking about the chant.

Maybe you've heard about Russell Westbrook's struggles in Memphis, his 0-for-13 shooting and a commotion on the sideline during the game.

By now this town's captivation with this team knows no limits, and our preoccupation with Westbrook's play and mood and body language can border on the obsessive.

Well, Westbrook wasn't too much better for three quarters Thursday night. And a guy sitting two rows behind me was keeping track of the trend, shouting “Oh-for-14” and “Oh-for-15” when Westbrook missed his first two shots Thursday against Dallas.

His tone was more dread than derision. Through three quarters, Westbrook had twice as many turnovers as baskets (6-3). But all night it felt like a decent percentage of the crowd showed up on the off chance they could do something to help get Westbrook turned around.

And with 3:17 to play and the game tied 91-91, Westbrook gave them their chance.

When Kendrick Perkins slapped the ball away from Dirk Nowitzki, Westbrook grabbed it and raced down court for what looked like a vintage breakaway dunk. You know, the kind he flushes and then roars like a lion. The crowd goes crazy, the play shows up on SportsCenter and everything goes back to normal. The Westbrook Watch goes back to def-con 1.

Except Jason Terry wasn't having any of that. Terry fouled Westbrook from behind as he took off, sending him flying into the first row.

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