The Thunder just won a close game against a good opponent on the road, something that the team has struggled to do for several weeks. The Clippers played well. The Thunder played better. Beating a good team playing well on the road in March is the sort of thing that a team can hope to build on for success in April and beyond.
If Not Martin...
If there was a downside to the Thunder’s win it is that Kevin Martin struggled yet again. Martin shot 3-12 from the field for his second consecutive game below .300 in shooting. Over his last eight games, Martin is shooting .409. While that number is well below his season shooting percentage of .450, it still does not seem horrible. But that .409 mark is skewed a little by two great games during the stretch in which he shot .636 and .714. Take away those two performances, and Martin averaged a shooting percentage of .313 in the other six.
Those numbers are a little disturbing for a guy known as a good shooter. True, he is not a starter, but in Oklahoma City’s system his scoring as the sixth man is not just important – it is vital to the success of the offense. Martin is third on the team in scoring, and his 14.5 points per game represent roughly 13.6 percent of the Thunder’s second ranked 106.7 points per game average.
... Then Maybe Westbrook?
Fortunately for Oklahoma City, Russell Westbrook seems hell bent on leaving a trail of destroyed opponents in his wake. Westbrook has not always been the most consistent player, but over the same eight games that Martin has struggled, Westbrook has upped his game to a new level. He has averaged 29 points per game during that stretch while shooting a scintillating .507 percent from the floor. LeBron and McKayla might not be impressed, but the rest of us sure are.
Westbrook shot better than the .507 mark five times during the last eight games and shot .471 in one of the other games. It is two poor games bringing down the average from his other six.
Westbrook would love to continue to smack opponents around (metaphorically, of course, Kobe), but he shot .273 the last time Oklahoma City played the Lakers. He has not shot below .368 since and shot above .500 in 10 of the 14 games played between that loss and tonight’s game. While Westbrook tries to continue the play that netted him a total of +62 in the plus-minus column over the last eight games, Martin has to try to snap out of the slump that has him at a total of -1 in those same contests.