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Brooks' Benchings Lead to Chi-Town Shellacking | December
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Scott Brooks did not like what he saw on the court during last night's game. He did not feel as if his Oklahoma City Thunder were playing as hard as they should, so he took a big chance by benching two of his superstars. While it may not have worked, as the Chicago Bulls took advantage and pulled away with a win, the message was still sent loud and clear.

 Play hard or don't play at all.

While he did not elaborate on the benchings after the game, Brooks sat Kevin Durant and Jeff Green less than three minutes into the third quarter. At that time, the Bulls held just a six point advantage, but they took full advantage of the fact that the Thunder were playing without two of their top players and increased their lead to 16 points at the end of the quarter. That would be too much for the rest of the team to overcome.

Neither Durant nor Green were having a good shooting night from the field. Durant finished the game with 29 points, but shot just 7 of 18 from the floor. He did go a perfect 14 of 14 from the free throw line. Green was far worse, connecting on just 1 of 9 field goals for 7 points. But Brooks insists it was not just their poor shooting that earned them both a spot on the bench for the third quarter. It could not have been, because they were not the only players to turn in a poor shooting performance. Russell Westbrook matched Durant with a 7 of 18 showing, but that was still one of the better percentages on the evening.

While Green may have been the worst, he certainly had plenty of company. Thabo Sefolosha finished 1 of 6 with 3 points, although he did grab 8 rebounds. The bench shot a combined 5 of 19 from the field, led by James Harden and his 3 of 12 performance. Nenad Kristic was the lone bright spot for the Thunder last night, as he scored 18 points on 8 of 12 shooting. He also managed to do so in just 22 minutes.

But it was not a night to remember for Oklahoma City. They made just 29 of 82 field goals, good for just a 35.4 percentage. They had as many assists as turnovers, were outrebounded 52-39 and remained competitive simply due to their 28 of 31 night from the charity stripe. Regardless of who you play, those numbers will just not get the job done.

But as bad as the game and the numbers were, I still saw a positive to come out of last night, and it had nothing to do with the box score.

After the game, reporters asked Durant and Green why they were benched. While they did not provide or have an exact answer, they took no time in stating that the coach has to do whatever it takes to try and help this team win games. They both said that they all need to play harder and that they know that Brooks has their back. Neither questioned his decision or took an attitude. That is one of the main differences between this young team and countless others who would have provided the media with a field day for something like this. But the Thunder are not one of those teams.

In other news, the team recalled rookie center Cole Aldrich from the Tulsa 66ers of the NBADL. In five games, Aldrich averaged 7.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. The Thunder need a quick turnaround as they prepare to face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night.




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