Aggressive Thunder takes it to the edge

Oklahoma City is winning a lot of ball games, but turnovers and lack of offensive rebounds might come back and bite team come playoff time.
BY DARNELL MAYBERRY, Staff Writer, dmayberry@opubco.com Published: February 16, 2012

“We've done a whole lot of things well, otherwise we wouldn't have the best record in the (conference),” said center Kendrick Perkins. “As a young team, you've got to be thrilled with how the guys have challenged themselves to come this far. You don't find that in many young teams, the consistency of winning. So it's been huge.”

Once again, we're seeing the Thunder build character throughout the regular season. Regardless of what's happened in the first 43 minutes of a game, the Thunder generally has found a way to finish strong. OKC is 5-2 in games decided by four points or less, the lone losses being at Washington and Wednesday at Houston.

“I think we've improved every year the last couple of years,” Brooks said. “This year we're continuing to work on ways to finish games.”

The weaknesses are glaring.

“We have a good record, but we still have things that we have to get better at,” Brooks said. “Offensive rebounds, we give up too many of those. The turnovers, we give up too many of those. That's something that we have to control. Those are areas that we should get better in.”

Brooks said he'd like for his team to keep their turnovers around 14 per game. Currently the Thunder leads the league in giveaways at 17.1 a night.

“We are an aggressive team. We are an attack team,” Brooks said. “We like to take it to the edge. That's an advantage, and sometimes that's a disadvantage for us. But we have to be an aggressive team.”

If there's any sign of hope it's that the Thunder's current starting lineup still hasn't played a full season together. Naturally, the core will continue to grow as it receives more court time. And the youth of this team is still scary.

“We just got to keep preaching team, team, team and not individuals,” Perkins said. “We can't be having hidden agendas. We got to throw that out the window. We got to keep preaching team. If guys lose themselves in the team, I think we'll go a long way.”

And the best thing is there's still plenty of time to shore up the trouble areas before it's win or go home.

“We got a ways to go. We got time to clean it up,” Perkins said. “I think the main thing is we just need to keep building toward April and May and just keep getting better until then.”


Thunder vs. Golden State Warriors

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena

TV: FS Oklahoma (Cox 37, HD Ch. 722)

Mobile: newsok.com/gameday

Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, WWLS 640-AM

Three things to know

* Oklahoma City and Golden State are third and fourth in the NBA in scoring. The Thunder is averaging 101.2 points per game. The Warriors are averaging 99 points per game. This is the third of three meetings between these two teams. The Thunder won the first meeting 120-109 and took the second game 119-116.

* This is the start of a five-game home stand for the Thunder.

* Golden State is 3-6 on the road this season.

Projected starters

Thunder (22-7)

Pos.; Player; Ht.; Pts.; Reb.; Ast.

G; Russell Westbrook; 6-3; 22.8; 5.0; 5.5

G; Daequan Cook; 6-5; 5.9; 2.4; 0.2

F; Kevin Durant; 6-9; 27.0; 8.1; 3.2

F; Serge Ibaka; 6-10; 8.0; 7.2; 0.5

C; Kendrick Perkins; 6-10; 4.5; 5.7; 0.9

Warriors (11-15)

Pos.; Player; Ht.; Pts.; Reb.; Ast.

G; Stephen Curry; 6-3; 16.4; 4.2; 6.6

G; Monta Ellis; 6-3; 22.0; 3.4; 6.0

F; Dorrell Wright; 6-9; 11.0; 4.4; 1.8

F; David Lee; 6-9; 19.0; 10.1; 2.6

C; Andris Biedrins; 7-0; 2.5; 4.8; 0.3

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