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Thunder notebook: OKC still the best in the West

Denver coach George Karl rolls his eyes when asked by media if Thunder is losing its grip as the best team in the conference.
BY JOHN ROHDE, Staff Writer, Published: March 16, 2012

The Thunder lost 104-103 at home on Tuesday night after getting outscored 13-1 in the final 2½ minutes against Houston. It was OKC's third loss in its last six starts.

But when it was suggested before Thursday night's game at the Pepsi Center that OKC might be losing its grip as the best team in the Western Conference, Denver coach George Karl rolled his eyes.

“You could say the same thing about the Miami Heat,” Karl said. “They've lost two in a row. I still think Oklahoma City has proven to me that they're the best team in the West now. It's a short trial period. We usually have 60 games at this time in the season. We've got 40 games in now.

“I love their Big Three (of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden). I love how (coach) Scotty (Brooks) handles 'em. It'll be interesting (in the postseason). … We kind of like playing 'em. We enjoyed the playoff series last year, and we enjoyed the last game we played against them.”

The Thunder then went out and posted a 103-90 victory against Denver for its ninth win against the Nuggets in the last 11 meetings.


Serge Ibaka had 11 blocked shots against Denver in the season's previous meeting on Feb. 19, which was a 124-118 Thunder victory.

Asked if there was anything his team would try to do to curtail Ibaka's blocks, Karl said: “I don't think so. Our philosophy is (to attack the basket offensively). That's what we do. I know he got 11 blocks, but we still got 70 (actually 72) points in the paint that game. Would I sacrifice 10 blocked shots for 70 in the paint? I'd take that right now.

“I think our guys understand when they're trying to score against two or three guys, the simple play is what you have to go to. You can't make a tough, complicated play in the NBA, unless you're a special, special player. And even then, I think if there's two guys on you, the game says find the open man.”

Saddled with foul trouble, Ibaka had three blocks on Thursday.


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