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Tramel: Nick Collison did the heavy lifting in Game 7 triumph

BY BERRY TRAMEL, Staff Writer, btramel@opubco.com Published: May 15, 2011

“The toughness he displayed on Zach, Nick challenged him possession after possession,” Thunder coach Scotty Brooks said.

When Collison was on the court Sunday, the Thunder outscored Memphis 79-53. 79-53!

“I like to think I make a difference, particularly defensively,” Collison said. “It doesn't take much, a couple of stops, to get us going, usually.”

Collison gave Randolph no room. When Big Zach had the ball. When he didn't. When he was chasing it off the backboard.

By the way, Kendrick Perkins and Nazr Mohammed were bulwarks in the middle, too. That's what makes the Thunder a title contender.

They've got the glam guys in Durant and Westbrook. And they've got the glue guys like Collison, protecting the basket with uncommon zeal and setting screens that give Durant the little wiggle room he needs.

“He's a winner,” Brooks said of Collison. “He just has a knack for making winning basketball plays, every time down court.”

Such play comes at a price. While Westbrook and James Harden and even Durant sometimes seem as energetic in the final minutes as they did in the first minutes, that's never the case with Collison.

He's worn out by 33 head-banging and body-banging minutes.

“I was tired,” Collison said. “I was tired in the first half. But I tried to just play through it. Kind of got my second wind in the second half.

“As I've gotten older (he's 30), I've learned to just keep pushing. Eventually you kind of get that second wind. Eventually you realize you're not going to die. That's kind of my mindset. Keep going, keep going, and good things will happen.”

Keep putting Nick Collison into big games, which are the only kind left, and good things will happen to the Thunder.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.


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