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Yao poses a big challenge for Thunder

By Darnell Mayberry Modified: November 1, 2008 at 6:09 pm •  Published: November 1, 2008
HOUSTON — The phrase coach P.J. Carlesimo uses to teach effective interior defense to his post players is "do your work early.”

"We’ve got to do a better job denying position early before they catch the ball,” Carlesimo said.

The Thunder couldn’t complete that assignment against Milwaukee center Andrew Bogut in Wednesday’s season opener and saw the Bucks’ center set the tone for the game. Oklahoma City’s next challenge is against Yao Ming and the Houston Rockets tonight at 7:30.

Yao, like Bogut did Wednesday, could change the complexion of the game if the Thunder’s post players don’t find a way to contain him.

"We just have to play light years better in terms of our post defense and our rotations,” Carlesimo said. "Yao is more difficult to fight for position than Andrew because he’s stronger. We’re just going to have to do a better job of either fronting or doubling down to combat the size.”

Bogut scored his team’s first six points Wednesday on two jump hooks and a dunk. When the Thunder began double-teaming Bogut, he found his teammates for open jumpers.

"His catches were so deep and in such good position that we were way behind the curve when he caught the ball,” Carlesimo said.

The Thunder’s rotations became longer and allowed the Bucks’ perimeter players, mainly Michael Redd and Richard Jefferson, more time to get their shots off.

Related Articles

Thunder at Rockets

→When: 7:30 p.m.

→Where: Toyota Center, Houston

→TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma (Cox 37)

→Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, 640-AM

Probable starters

Thunder (0-1)
Pos. Player Ht. Pts. Reb. Ast.
G Earl Watson 6-1 8.0 2.0 4.0
G Kevin Durant 6-9 12.0 3.0 2.0
F Jeff Green 6-9 7.0 3.0 2.0
F Nick Collison 6-10 7.0 6.0 1.0
Cr Johan Petro 7-0 2.0 3.0 0.0
Rockets (2-0)
Pos. Player Ht. Pts. Reb. Ast.
G Rafer Alston 6-2 5.0 4.0 3.5
G Tracy McGrady 6-8 16.0 3.5 6.0
F Ron Artest 6-7 22.5 5.0 1.0
F Luis Scola 6-9 9.5 8.5 0.0
C Yao Ming 7-6 22.5 11.5 1.5

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