After Thursday's win over Orlando, the Thunder is 5-6 against six of the league's other top eight teams: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Orlando and San Antonio. The only team in that group that the Thunder has yet to beat is the Spurs, who are 2-0 against the Thunder.
The Thunder also is a combined 4-1 against Denver, New Orleans and Utah. All nine teams are at least six games above .500.
“We're going to battle,” said Jeff Green. “From the tip until the end of the game. We've seen that all season, and we're going to continue to play that way.”
The victory over the Magic was considered one of the year's best. Forward Nick Collison said it could spark a turnaround for the Thunder, which has struggled with poor stretches on both ends of the court and is now gearing up for a road trip to face the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday and the Nuggets on Wednesday.
“Things change quickly,” Collison said. “I think we feel a lot better about (Thursday) night than the games before. It seemed like we competed (Thursday). We were doing a lot of smart things.”
Collison singled out two specific small things from Thursday night. Kevin Durant quickly took the blame for a foul when Serge Ibaka had four, and Eric Maynor delivered a hard foul on Dwight Howard to prevent a dunk and send him to the foul line.
“When we're locked in like that everybody is in tune to what's going on in the game and we're tough to beat,” Collison said. “We haven't seen that at all times this year. Hopefully we can get back to it.”
IBAKA PRACTICES DUNKS
At the conclusion of Friday's practice, Ibaka practiced a few trick dunks with half the team standing and watching and offering up suggestions.
When a cameraman from a local news station filmed nearby, Thunder players ordered him to turn off his camera so Ibaka's dunks wouldn't be leaked prior to next month's dunk contest.
“Hopefully he has a good showing. Hopefully he does much better than what he was working on,” joked Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “It should be fun. I'm excited for him. It's a great opportunity.”
OKLAHOMA CITY ARENA HAUNTED?
The Magic before Thursday's game became the latest visiting team to voice concerns about the Skirvin Hotel, which allegedly is haunted. Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy, though, went a different direction.
“I don't buy into any of it,” Van Gundy started. “What haunts me are guys like Kevin Durant. So, I would say this building (Oklahoma City Arena) is haunted because of guys like him, as are most buildings in the NBA. I haven't run into a haunted hotel, just haunted arenas.”
KRSTIC GETTING HIS DUE
Nenad Krstic had his best game of the year Thursday against Howard, the league's best center. Krstic had nine rebounds in the first quarter, which tied a season high and finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds, his first double-double this year.
On Friday, Brooks called his center ‘steady.”
“He does a lot of things well for us that he doesn't get credit for or you can't see on the stat sheet,” Brooks said. “But he does those important things on the defensive end.”
Cole Aldrich, currently on assignment with the Tulsa 66ers, on Friday was named to the 2011 All-NBA D-League Showcase Third Team. 66ers forward Latavious Williams also earned third team honors. …The Thunder held a rare practice following a back-to-back Friday, spending the session watching film, lifting weights, playing 4-on-4, conducting shooting drills and shooting free throws. “It was good work coming off a good win (Thursday) night,” Brooks said. “Guys came back with good energy and they focused on areas that we need to continue to get better.”