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Jenni Carlson: Consistency is what Scott Brooks learned and now teaches

by Jenni Carlson Published: April 24, 2011

DENVER — George Karl entered these NBA playoffs having won 74 games in postseason play during his illustrious coaching career.

Looks like he will leave these playoffs with the exact same number of wins.

His Nuggets face elimination Monday in Game 4, and even though Karl has pulled every string possible and pushed every button imaginable, nothing has worked in this series. Not calling the Thunder cocky. Not throwing every available body possible at Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Not playing the woe-is-me card after a blown goaltending call in Game 1. Not professing confidence that returning to Denver would remedy all ills after Game 2.

I guess someone's got to provide playoff tomfoolery once Phil Jackson retires.

Scott Brooks isn't auditioning for that gig. What Mr. Straight-and-Narrow is doing is getting the better of this coaching matchup.

“He's been real consistent with his message all year,” Thunder veteran Nick Collison said. “You can probably tell by how we talk to the media — we're always saying the same things over and over again — but it's what's preached to us every day.

“I think that consistency's big.”

It has been huge during this playoff series. The Thunder didn't panic when the Nuggets jumped to a big lead in Game 1. Ditto for when it gave up a big lead in Game 2.

And being able to win in a hostile road environment despite not playing great basketball in Game 3? That was all about keeping your head on straight.

Sure, the Thunder had some uncharacteristic breakdowns of composure Saturday. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant picked up technical fouls, something that players not named Kendrick Perkins rarely do. Yes, the Thunder let a comfortable lead slip late in the game when J.R. Smith got hot.

But let's remember — for the youngest team in these playoffs to score a postseason road win when everything didn't go its way, that took some commendable composure.

That flows directly from the head coach.

“I just think it's always important to be consistent with guys,” Brooks said. “I know when I played, I always wanted that from my coaches.”

Brooks is so dogged on consistency that it goes all the way to his wardrobe. Before every home game, he wears the same warm-up with a “Training Camp 2010” logo on it.

A couple weeks ago, Brooks looked like he might break out in hives as he talked about Karl showing up in all sorts of different outfits when he was an assistant in Denver. One day, he might wear a Nuggets top. Another day, he might wear a hat backward.

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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