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Thunder keeps it close but avoids repeat of Wizards' fiasco

The Thunder regained their focus and escaped with a 101-91 victory over New Orleans.
BY JOHN ROHDE, Staff Writer, jrohde@opubco.com Published: January 25, 2012

When the Thunder played last Wednesday night at Washington, it had the NBA's best record at 12-2 and lost to the team with the league's worst record in the 1-12 Wizards.

When the Thunder played this Wednesday night at home against New Orleans, it had the Western Conference's best record at 14-3 and was on the verge of losing to the conference's worst record in the 3-14 Hornets.

OKC managed to regain its focus before another sellout crowd of 18,203 inside Chesapeake Energy Arena and escaped with a 101-91 victory over New Orleans, which has now lost nine straight.

Before the contest, Thunder coach Scott Brooks insisted his team had learned its lesson one week prior at Washington, D.C. and had cautioned his team to pay heed.

"You can't overlook," Brooks said of the Hornets. "Their record is obviously not where they want it to be. They've been in every game."

New Orleans had lost its previous three games by two points each.

Brooks did what coaches frequently do and proclaimed that the inferior opponent his team was about to face was much better than its record.

Told of Brooks' pregame remarks, well-humored Hornets coach Monty Williams smiled and said: "Scott's trying to use one of those coaching ploys. It's like pseudo-Knute Rockne. He's just being gracious. We've made a ton of mistakes. Down the stretch we haven't executed. We've had lulls after halftime. Changes in lineups, injuries, you name it we've had it in 17 games.

"He (Brooks) is just being nice. He's trying to motivate his guys. Tell him to cut it out. Scott's just being Scott."

Not to be outdone, Williams certainly didn't hold anything back while praising OKC, which has now won 10 of its last 11.

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