Thunder 116, Phoenix 98
Observations from the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 116-98 victory at Phoenix on Wednesday night inside US Airways Center, where the Thunder is now riding a three-game winning streak:
* Coach Scott Brooks pretty much is saying the same things in March that he did in October. Now that April has arrived, he no doubt will repeat the same this month.
“Play the right way.”
“There’s still room to improve.”
“Every day is a work day.”
“This is no time to rest.”
“We need to improve on our pick-and-roll and help-side defense.”
Brooks uttered these verses again after his team beat the Suns with conviction. Staying true to your word is fine, I suppose, but this came on a night that warranted at least some kind of appreciation of two impressive feats.
1. With eight games remaining in the season, the Thunder (50-24) already has matched last season’s victory total.
2. March became the most successful month in franchise history — in OKC and Seattle — with a 14-2 record.
Before the game, Brooks said he never has talked to his team about reaching last year’s victory total, nor has he mentioned the possibility of going 14-2 in March.
You figured Brooks probably was trying to keep his team’s private business inside the locker room. If the Thunder was going to celebrate, it would do so in privacy. That, too, would have been fine.
On what would qualify as a significant day in the Thunder’s young history, Brooks essentially shrugged his shoulders at win No. 50.
“It was not brought up,” Brooks said before joking, “Maybe I should go back in there and say, ‘Good job, guys.’ ”
You figured when the Thunder locker room was opened to reporters, there would still be some kind of evidence of recognition — the number “50″ written on a grease board somewhere, perhaps “14-2.”
There was nothing, and when Thunder players were asked about the two achievements, they also might as well have shrugged.
Were the No. 50 and 14-2 discussed before the game? No.
Were they discussed afterward? No.
Was either at least mentioned in passing? No.
Anyone in here have a pulse?
Even after some prodding, the players remained beyond composed.
Thabo Sefolosha: “We didn’t discuss it. Not at all, actually. It shows we’re working hard.”
James Harden: “Nobody even mentioned it. We’re just on a roll. That’s definitely a great accomplishment.”
Eric Maynor: “We’re winning and we know we’re playing good basketball. That’s the main thing. If we keep doing that, we’ve got a shot at winning every night.”
Reserve guard Royal Ivey wasn’t with the Thunder last season.
“Oh, I noticed it,” Ivey said of reaching the 50-win mark. “This is a tough league, especially in the Western Conference and to do it back-to-back years is quite an accomplishment. We’re playing good basketball and the wins are coming. You can’t take winning for granted. It’s a good feeling to be part of a winning team, or a winning tradition now. The stakes are high, so you’ve got to keep it rolling.”
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