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Thunder role players ready to do their part

By John Rohde, Staff Writer, Published: April 19, 2011

Thanks to the scoring talents of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the Oklahoma City Thunder box score frequently looks a little top-heavy.

Such was the case in Game 1 of the Thunder's playoff series against the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night, when their numbers jumped off the stat sheet.

Durant had 41 points, shot 13 for 22 from the field, 3 for 6 from 3-point range and also grabbed nine rebounds. Westbrook had 31 points, shot 12 for 23 from the field, 3 for 4 beyond the arc and added seven assists and six rebounds.

Throw reserve guard Eric Maynor into the mix (12 points; 5 for 7; 2 for 3 in just 12 minutes) and everyone else on the Thunder roster combined to score 23 points and shoot 32.0 percent from the field.

Though OKC's supporting cast was barely a blip on the stat sheet, the team was able to sneak out a 107-103 victory inside Oklahoma City Arena.

How the Thunder's role players perform in Game 2 at 7 p.m. Wednesday could swing the series in what qualifies as an extremely intriguing opening-round matchup.

Denver (107.5) led the NBA in scoring during the regular season and OKC (104.8) ranked fifth, but each team lights up the scoreboard much differently, and both made significant trades before the Feb. 24 deadline.

With Carmelo Anthony (25.2 ppg) and Chauncey Billups (16.5) now in New York, the Nuggets thrive with a more balanced attack.

With Jeff Green (15.2) and Nenad Krstic (7.6) shipped to Boston, the Thunder tries to pummel opponents with two sledgehammers in Durant and Westbrook.

Not everyone on OKC's roster can fill a stat sheet, which is fine as long as everyone fulfills his particular role.

The evaluation of Game 1?

Coach Scott Brooks: “We need to do certain things better.”

Starting guard Thabo Sefolosha: “I think we struggled a little bit, especially offensively.”

Reserve power forward Nick Collison: “I thought we did OK.”

Reserve guard James Harden: “I missed a couple of shots. It's nothing to worry about.”

These are hardly ringing endorsements, but certainly no signs of panic, either.

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