Before Monday's game at Utah, the Thunder had allowed opponents to shoot a league-high 43.4 percent from behind the 3-point line. Sunday's 11-for-20 shooting performance by San Antonio was as bad as it has gotten for Oklahoma City.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks said the problems stem from allowing dribble penetration, which ultimately leads to open shooters on the perimeter.
â€œThey're beating us off the dribble too easily,â€ Brooks said. â€œAnd then we have to help because a layup is a high-percentage shot and you can't give those up. We have to control the ball much better â€¦ We're giving up a high percentage of 3s. We're not giving them a lot of attempts. We're less than we normally would have. But still, the percentage is way too high.â€
One way to remedy the problem, according to guard Thabo Sefolosha, is by players stepping up and taking their man assignments as more of a personal challenge rather than relying on help defense so much.
â€œI think the defense overall, there's less intensity, at least not for 48 minutes,â€ Sefolosha said. â€œWe know we're capable of doing it and we've showed it at times this year. But we need to be more consistent with our overall defense.â€
GREEN SITS, WEARS PROTECTIVE BOOT
Forward Jeff Green did not play Monday against Utah after aggravating his still-healing sprained left ankle in Sunday's loss to San Antonio. Green stepped on another player's foot in the first half and tried to play through the pain before it became unbearable. He played only 5 1/2 minutes in the second half.
â€œIt got to the point where I couldn't play anymore and I figured it was best for me and my team to just sit out,â€ Green said.
Green traveled with the team to Utah and wore a protective boot on his left foot Monday, but he said the injury isn't serious.
â€œIt's just precautionary,â€ Green said of the boot. â€œIt's mainly to take the pressure off of it so it can get better and heal a little bit quicker. I'm just taking it day by day.â€
Green said his ankle felt good Sunday and added that his conditioning was in good shape. But after landing awkwardly, Green said the pain and discomfort returned.
â€œI can't pinpoint an exact (percentage) for you,â€ Green said. â€œBut it's there. It's something that I don't want to continue to mess with or put more pressure on.â€
ONE WILD RIDE
When the Thunder's chartered plane landed in Salt Lake City late Sunday night, several players posted messages on their Twitter accounts that it was the scariest flight they've ever been on.
â€œIt just got a little bumpy at the end coming down here in Utah,â€ Sefolosha said. â€œIt was just turbulence. But it was pretty scary.â€
Brooks, a former 10-year pro who played before the days of chartered flights, has experienced worse.
â€œIt wasn't too bad,â€ Brooks said. â€œIt was a little bouncy. But it was a lot better than the game we played (Sunday).â€
The first period of Monday's game was not broadcast on Cox in the Oklahoma City area due to technical difficulties. The problem was resolved in the second quarter. â€¦ Jazz point guard Deron Williams on Monday was named Western Conference Player of the Week after leading Utah in a 4-0 road trip. Williams averaged 23 points on 45.6 percent shooting with 11.8 assists and four rebounds during the stretch. â€¦ Jazz rookie forward Gordon Hayward, the ninth overall pick, received his first career start Monday in place of Raja Bell. â€¦ Struggling shooting guard Daequan Cook was inactive for the second consecutive game.
Brooks joking about the game plan going into Monday's game against a never-say-die Jazz team â€” â€œWe're going to go down 10 and we're going to see how good Jerry is coaching with a lead.â€