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April 24, 2014

Thunder look to bounce back

OKLAHOMA CITY — During the hey day of L.A. Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, a new term was added to the lexicon. Anyone who seemingly was able to slow down the prolific scorer was automatically dubbed the Kobe Stopper.

Players such as Ruben Patterson, Raja Bell, Shane Battier, Ron Artest and Bruce Bowen all had the tag attached to their name, despite Bryant putting up big numbers against them.

Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant is now getting the same treatment as Bryant. After the first two games of the Thunder’s postseason series with Memphis, some around the league and in the media are starting to whisper that the Grizzlies have a KD stopper in the form of Tony Allen.

However, according to the Grizzlies’ Courtney Lee, the best Durant stopper in the league plays for the Thunder.

“We’re fine with (Russell) Westbrook taking shots,” Lee said. “I mean, that’s kind of what you want. The more shots he takes, the less Durant takes.”

In Monday’s loss to Memphis, Westbrook and Durant each hoisted up 28 shots.

That has been the strike against the Thunder. Those outside of the organization don’t believe the team can be successful if the point guard is shooting as many times or more that the four-time scoring champion.

But Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks has never been concerned with that stat. If his players are attacking, the shot chart will work itself out.

What Brooks is more concerned about is finding a way to free his scorers up from the grasp of the Grizz defenders. That means using the media to send messages to the referees.

“We have to do a better job of our sets and a better job of our screens,” Brooks said. “That’s the only way we can keep the hands off our guys. We want to play a game of  basketball that will allow us to get into our offense. If we don’t have good set-ups and good screens, it’s going to bog down. We’re at our best when we get in our spots, when we lock in on our offense, focus on the play, run off of it, set screens and keep them from holding us.”

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