Russell Westbrook still trying to find his shot

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Just having Russell Westbrook back on the court has opened up the Thunder offense — they are three points per 100 possessions better in those last 10 games, the Thunder are shooting better (four percentage points better from three) and most importantly they are 8-2 as a team. That includes wins over the Spurs and Clippers.

All that despite the fact Westbrook has not found his shot. At all.

He is shooting 38.8 percent overall this season and 29.3 percent from three. After missing all of training camp and the start of the season (not to mention last playoffs) trying to recover from surgery to repair a torn meniscus, she has not been able to shake off the rust.

Here is what he told the Oklahoman about his early season struggles.

“It’s going to take time,” Westbrook said. “Your legs got to get stronger, your body, all your muscles got to get used to working and getting back going.”

Here are two reasons Thunder fans shouldn’t worry (and maybe the rest of the league should).

First, he started slow last season even when healthy — he shot an identical 38.8 percent through 10 games last season, as noted in the Oklahoman piece.

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Second, look at the shots he is missing.

source:

Westbrook is not finishing well at the rim — and that will change. He’s shooting just 41.8 percent on shots within 8 feet, break it down further and he’s shooting 39.1 percent in the paint. As he gets used to playing against the rim protectors in the NBA, as he gets used to trusting his athleticism to finish in those situations, his shooting percentage will go up close to the rim. As will his scoring numbers.

Just the threat of Westbrook has improved the Thunder offense. Wait until he starts knocking down shots.

Carmelo Anthony leaves without speaking to media, will probably get fined

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Lately, Carmelo Anthony has parsed whether the Thunder are frustrated or angry and said he’s going through the roughest stretch of his career.

It didn’t get any better last night.

Anthony scored 11 points on 12 shots with three turnovers, and Oklahoma City got outscored by 21 points with him on the floor in a home loss to the Hornets. The Thunder have now lost two of three, falling to the lowly Nets and Hornets and needing overtime to beat the freefalling Grizzlies.

Royce Young of ESPN:

Anthony today:

I’m sorry. My bad. I had a FaceTime session with my son, so I skipped out on you guys yesterday. I apologize. It’s true, though. That’s true. It’s true. He had a school night.

The NBA’s media-access rules state: “All players must be available to the media for a minimum of five to 10 minutes during the postgame media access period.” It’s been a while since someone got punished for violating the policy, but Kevin Garnett was fined $25,000 for not speaking to the media after Game 7 of the 2012 Eastern Conference finals.

I’m sympathetic to Anthony wanting to speak to his son, who’s still in New York. But the league tends not to take these personal concerns into consideration, which is probably for the best. There’s a rule. Anthony violated it. Assessing which personal calls should supersede the rule is a can of worms not worth opening. Besides, Anthony probably could have returned to the locker room for an interview after concluding the call.

Anthony earns a lot of money. If he wanted to risk a $25,000 fine to speak with his son, I have absolutely no problem with that. But that’s probably the choice he made.

In my experience, Anthony has been forthright with the media. He spent years as the face of the Knicks, dutifully answering for problems created by James Dolan and Phil Jackson. Because he was available nearly daily while his superiors avoided interviews, Anthony was the grilled by the New York media.

I bet he expected a reprieve in Oklahoma City. Instead, the spotlight has shined on him as a problem with the underwhelming Thunder.

It’s understandable he’d rather talk to his son than reporters. But it’s also understandable the NBA wants to promote its business through the media, and the league has power to enforce its rules.

Grizzlies fan absolutely owns kids halftime scrimmage (video)

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The Grizzlies lost for the 15th time in their last 16 games, a 25-point drubbing at home against the Heat, last night.

But it wasn’t all doom and gloom in Memphis.

This young fan – while playing in the halftime scrimmage – stopped his dribble, stepped on the ball, whipped off his youth jersey to reveal a Marc Gasol jersey, flexed, re-started his dribbled then drove for a basket.

Matt Ellentuck of SB Nation:

The Grizzlies don’t deserve this hero.

DeMarcus Cousins pushes Trevor Ariza after whistle, gets technical foul (video)

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For better or worse, DeMarcus Cousins is moody.

Just after getting dunked on by Clint Capela, Cousins showed his frustration by pushing Trevor Ariza after a whistle. The Pelicans center got his NBA-leading ninth technical foul – automatic suspension triggered at No. 16 – but I’m surprised this didn’t escalate beyond just that.

Paul George floors Jeremy Lamb with crossover, hits step-back 3-pointer over him (video)

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The Thunder suffered a rough home loss to the Hornets, but at least Oklahoma City produced a couple fun highlights.

Not only did Russell Westbrook have this powerful dunk, Paul George put the moves on Jeremy Lamb.