The Norman Transcript

Local Sports

April 26, 2014

Hero ball not the answer for Thunder

Team defends recent play of Westbrook, KD

MEMPHIS — The term is “hero ball.” According to the Urban dictionary it means “A style of basketball played by a person with average or mediocre talent who nonetheless believes he is the second coming of Michael Jordan. It involves lots of ball-hogging, mindless spinning and jumping, and taking a bunch of highly contested fade-away jumpers that almost never go in.”

While that definition does not apply to Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the duo have been accused of playing hero ball against the Memphis Grizzlies.

However, Durant said it’s the circumstances that have forced him and Westbrook to take the bulk of the shot attempts. That include Game 3’s overtime loss in which they found themselves down by double figures much of the night.

“We started the game off and I think everyone was touching the ball,” Durant said. “But we got down 17 points so we have to be aggressive. We are the guys. When you are down that much, you can’t just keep throwing the ball around the perimeter. Sometimes you just have to just improvise and just go out there and make plays. We are not playing a two-man show.”

However, the numbers tell a slightly altered story. On Thursday, Durant and Westbrook were a combined 19 for 53. The rest of the team took a total of 34 shots.

“We just have to do better,” Durant said. “We have to make sure we get guys confidence early on. But we have to do it within the offense. Maybe we are shooting too much. But we are going to stay aggressive no matter what anybody says. Some shots we felt that we could have made, but we didn’t. We will continue to trust our teammates and we’ll be fine.”

That includes trying to give Serge Ibaka more touches in the offense. He scored 12 points on 6-of-10 shooting. While members of the Thunder agreed Ibaka needs more touches, Westbrook said the questions were the media’s attempts to pull the team apart.

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