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Thunder notebook: Making adjustments

BY JOHN ROHDE, Staff Writer, Published: May 10, 2011


Thunder reserve guard Nate Robinson suffered a small cut above his left eye when he took an inadvertent elbow from Robert Vaden during a pregame 3-on-3 contest inside FedExForum. The wound required two stitches. The game was stopped immediately.


Memphis is known as the Grizzlies, but assistant coach Henry Bibby playfully refers to his team as a different type of bear that scratches and claws its way to victories while not always looking pretty.

"We're kind of like the Bad News Bears," Bibby said Monday. "We just kind of go out and play basketball. We play hard. Our players are playing hard, which is something we can't always teach as coaches. They've accepted their roles. We've played defense this year like we've never played before."


Memphis reserve O.J. Mayo started defending Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook toward the end of Game 3 on Sunday, but the two are well-acquainted. Mayo was a freshman at Southern California and Westbrook a sophomore at crosstown rival UCLA in 2007-08.

Asked what he tries to do defensively against Westbrook, Mayo said, "Mostly, just stay in front (of him). He's a big-time athlete. When he gets his wheels turning and has an opportunity to get to the basket, he's really, really explosive. So you just try to stay in front of him and contain him a little bit. He's a great player. He's worked on a pull-up jump shot that he's hitting a lot right now, so he's a good player."

Westbrook didn't become a starter in college until the season he faced Mayo.

"He's gotten head-and-shoulders better, even from his UCLA days," Mayo said. "He's a whole lot better. He plays really hard, has a high engine, a high motor and has a knack for just being around the ball."