Kevin Martin blending in well with Thunder
BY BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Saturday, December 08, 2012
12/08/12 at 4:10 AM
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OKLAHOMA CITY - On the majority of Oklahoma City stat sheets, Kevin Durant gets top billing.
Occasionally, Russell Westbrook owns the night.
Now and then, Serge Ibaka gets an attention-grabbing scoring total.
And then there is Kevin Martin - the Thunder's quietly and relentlessly effective sixth man, acquired in the trade that sent NBA Sixth Man of the Year James Harden to Houston.
Friday's numbers were typical. During a 114-108 triumph over the Los Angeles Lakers - an outcome that extended OKC's win streak to seven - Durant scored 36 points and Westbrook 33 (27 during the first half). In 26 minutes off the bench, the 29-year-old Martin contributed 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting.
"I think he's blending in well," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said of Martin, whose Thunder stats compare favorably to Harden's numbers of last season.
Including last season's second-round playoff conquest of the Lakers, Oklahoma City has prevailed in seven of its last nine meetings with Los Angeles.
As a starter in 6 1/2 of his previous seven NBA seasons (with Sacramento and Houston), the 6-foot-7, 185-pound Martin brought to Oklahoma a career scoring average of 18.4 points. Through the first five weeks of his first Thunder season, his scoring average is 15.6 points on 48 percent shooting from 3-point range and 93 percent shooting from the foul line.
For OKC last season, Harden averaged 16.8 points.
"I'm pretty comfortable," Martin said. "We'll get more comfortable the more we play. Right now, we're at the beginning of the process. We're off in the right direction."
The Harden-Martin trade was announced on Saturday night, Oct. 27 - during the second half of the Notre Dame-OU football game. Thunder fans were shocked. Martin was surprised - but not shocked.
"Everyone knew about the situation here with Harden and the (contract) negotiation," said Martin, a Zanesville, Ohio, native who played in college at Western Carolina. "I had a feeling during camp that if it didn't get worked out, Harden and me (could be involved in a trade). I didn't think it would be this soon, but I just had a crazy feeling."
"I knew what we both bring to the court and how we both fit into a system like this."
At the 5:20 mark of Friday's second period, Martin got a steal and layup that gave Oklahoma City its first double-digit lead (50-40).
Friday's victory boosted the Thunder to 16-4. Kobe Bryant scored 35 points for the Lakers, who sagged to 9-11.
The Laker game was the first of five consecutive home dates for the Thunder. OKC faces Indiana on Sunday, New Orleans on Wednesday, Sacramento next Friday and the San Antonio Spurs on Dec. 17.
When the Thunder beat Houston on Nov. 28, Harden and Martin each totaled 17 points. Harden was 3-of-16 on shots from the field. Martin was 6-of-14.
Martin had 27 points against New Orleans, sharing with Durant the team-high scoring distinction. Usually, though, Martin is No. 3 in the offensive pecking order.
Against Golden State, Westbrook had 30 points, Durant 25 and Martin 23.
Against the Los Angeles Clippers, Durant had 35, Westbrook 23 and Martin 20.
For Martin, Brooks said, "winning is more important than scoring 25 points. At best, he averages 16 or 17. It's about doing the right things to help your team win. He's not going to (average) 20 points on this team. He wants to win, and he's done everything we've asked of him. I admire that."
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Original Print Headline: Martin blends in well with Thunder
Bill Haisten 918-581-8397
Thunder guard Russell Westbrook soars toward the basket past the Lakers' Dwight Howard on Friday night. Westbrook scored 27 points in the first half. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World
The Thunder's Kevin Martin steals the ball during the first half Friday night in Oklahoma City. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World