Kevin Martin watched his long-range shot drop through the hoop, and as he turned to run to the other end of the court, he threw back his head.
“Oh my gosh,” he mouthed.
He clapped his hands.
This is what a reprieve from a shooting slump looks like.
The Thunder's first man off the bench has been struggling from behind the arch. But Wednesday night at The Peake, Martin hit four of seven from long distance, and it's no coincidence that the Thunder had a resounding victory.
Thunder 106, Timberwolves 84.
“I've been shooting so good the whole year,” Martin said, “but (Kevin Durant) told me, ‘You're not going to shoot great the whole year. You're going to go through a little stretch.'
“That's what I feel like I've been doing.”
And it hasn't been fun.
Even though Martin has scored decently the past five games — he averaged 11.4 points over that stretch — the 3-point line was not kind.
At Washington: 0 of 6.
At Toronto: 1 of 6.
Against Philadelphia: 4 of 4.
Against Brooklyn: 3 of 8.
Against Phoenix: 1 of 6.
Those bad shooting nights for Martin haven't always spelled defeat for the Thunder. Oklahoma City is 3-2 in those past five games, but most notable in that loss to the Wizards on a night that Martin hit none of his 3-point attempts.
He felt like the slump might be behind him after that game against the Sixers.
“But I guess it snuck in my suitcase and went to Toronto and Washington,” Martin said.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks has been getting in Martin's ear to remind him that slumps always end.
“Don't worry about the last one; you only have to focus on the next one,” the coach told him. “You put your time in. Sooner or later, your shots are going to fall.”
That sounds good. Sounds right, too. But when your shots aren't falling, everything about the slump is difficult to hear.
“It sucks when you go through stretches like this,” Martin said.
A big part of the equation is Martin adjusting to a new role in Oklahoma City. When he was in Sacramento, then in Houston, he was a scorer. The scorer, actually. Those teams needed him to put points on the board any way possible. Jumpers. Drives. Threes. Free-throws. As long as he scored, that was all that mattered.
Now with the Thunder, he still has to play the scorer role when he's on the floor with the reserves. He has to do a little bit of everything when he's out there with Nick Collison, Reggie Jackson and Co.
But when he's on the floor with Durant and Russell Westbrook, primarily in crunch time in the fourth quarter, his job is to a spot-up shooter. That change is born out in his stats. Where he used to take about a third of his shots from behind the 3-point line, now he takes nearly half of his shots from there.
“That's a big part of what we need him to do,” Brooks said of Martin's long-distance shooting. “We have got some terrific penetrators that have to be able to find open shooters when they do come off help.”
That puts more pressure on Martin to shoot it well.
He filled the role so well early when the Thunder got off to such a hot start. Perhaps after Monday night, a night in which he was 4 of 7 from behind the 3-point line and scored 19 points, he's ready to be that knock-down, dead-eye shooter again.
“It's about grinding it out and just staying with it,” he said, “and hopefully they fall.”
The Thunder hopes the same.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.