NORMAN — It was one of the worst games of his NBA career. Game 5 against the Houston Rockets saw Oklahoma City’s Kevin Martin fail on a scale of epic proportions and he missed wide open shot after wide open shot.
Martin was 1-for-10 from the field and scored three points as the Thunder lost to the Rockets 107-100. Most fans had already believed the team made the wrong decision in trading James Harden to Houston for Martin and draft picks. His performance that night seemed to validate it.
“He had a bad, bad game,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said of Martin. “I didn’t try to disguise that. He had a bad game. Bottom line, he missed a lot of open shots.”
That type of performance would have sent some players into a tailspin and they would be useless the rest of the postseason.
That was not the case with Martin. The nine-year veteran returned in Game 6 and exploded for 25 points, 21 coming in the first half. He doubled down on that performance with one just as strong against Memphis in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals when he posted 25 points on 8-for-14 shooting. Both were Thunder wins.
“I was just being aggressive,” Martin said. “Playing my game. I wasn’t satisfied with how last week ended. Just continue to play my game. I’m a guy that likes to be guarded. I don’t like wide-open looks. But I will keep taking them if they are there.”
Oklahoma City takes a 1-0 lead into Game 2 tonight at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. Despite the hot shooting of Martin and late game heroics of Kevin Durant, many still believe this is the Grizzlies’ series to lose. But much of that is based on the idea that no one can step up and replace Russell Westbrook’s production.