The Norman Transcript

Sports

May 17, 2013

Durant taking criticism for the first time in his career

Thunder All-Star insists demeanor isn't an issue

(Continued)

NORMAN —

Because the Thunder had such a relatively early exit from the playoffs, it’s easy to forget they had the best record in the Western Conference and battled Miami for the best record in the NBA for much of the season.

Up until Game 2 of its first round matchup with Houston, Oklahoma City seemed like a forgone conclusion to make it back to the NBA Finals. But a freak accident ended the season of All-star point guard Russell Westbrook and the team was never the same.

Second-year point guard Reggie Jackson flourished into a viable scoring option for the Thunder. It was his 3-pointer Wednesday that brought the team to within two points of Memphis late in the game.

But Westbrook’s absence could be felt in more ways than on the scoreboard.

“Russ (can) do one thing that stands out to me,” Kendrick Perkins said. “He gives everybody swagger. From coach (Scott) Brooks to KD to myself.”

The Thunder front office will have to make some difficult decisions in the offseason. Those include whether or not to re-sign Kevin Martin and amnesty Perkins. Both had a subpar postseason. Perkins said he believes he will be back with the team next year. Martin hopes he will.

“I have a vision of what I want my career to be,” Martin said. “And more than anything, that’s happiness and being part of something special. This is a place I’d love to be. I’m going to have some options out there so I’m going to see how the process plays out.”

Westbrook is expected to make a full recovery and be ready for next season. He, along with Serge Ibaka, Durant, Jeremy Lamb, DeAndre Liggins and Perry Jones, will all be under 25 when training camp kicks off. The Thunder have lot to look forward to.

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