Not long ago, the Thunder frequently was just good enough to lose. Now it’s become a team that’s just good enough to win. The latest example came the final night of 2009 with the Thunder’s 87-86 victory over the Utah Jazz on Thursday. The Thunder didn’t exactly dazzle the sellout crowd of 18,203 inside the Ford Center, with 20 turnovers and 50-percent shooting from the free-throw line. Ironically, it was two converted free throws from Nick Collison with 4.5 seconds remaining that was the difference between winning and losing. The Thunder remains a work in progress, but its rate of success has revved up considerably this season. Just goes to show what can happen with good talent and great chemistry. The Thunder is 18-14 overall and riding its first five-game winning streak since relocation. Sure beats the heck out of last year, and the year before, and the year before, and the year before. The Sonics/Thunder hasn’t been four games above .500 since the 2004-05 season in Seattle. The Thunder isn’t the most talented team in the league, but it might have the best chemistry. Coach Scott Brooks could make a strong argument he has the most close-knit team in the NBA, perhaps all of pro sports. "You see it every day," Brooks said of his team’s magical mix. "You see it on our practice floor. You see it in our locker room. You see it on the bus. You see it on road trips. (The players) get along. They understand it’s going to take everybody to chip in for everybody to be successful." The word "chemistry" can often become trite, but it unquestionably fits with this year’s Thunder. Future all-star Kevin Durant said chemistry "is the main reason why we’re doing better than last year at this point." Makes you wonder what the Thunder’s record would be right now if the players couldn’t stand each another. If that were the case, it’s safe to assume nobody around here would be thinking playoffs. Thunder point guard Kevin Ollie has played with 12 franchises in his 13 seasons and said the only team that compares to the Thunder’s cohesiveness is the 2000-01 Philadelphia 76ers, who advanced to the NBA Finals. Ollie said having the proper mix begins at the top. "It comes from the organization," Ollie explained. "They treat us like real people here. Instead of just being players, they treat you like you’re worth something. I think that trickles down to the players, because we all don’t take anything for granted. How they treat us is beautiful, but we also treat each other with that same respect." An effective mix of personalities is not something you can force. "Either you’ve got chemistry, or you don’t," said Durant, who scored 31 points against the Jazz for his sixth straight 30-plus game. "If a guy doesn’t like another person, you can’t work at that. We are very fortunate to have guys who like playing with each other and like being around each other. It’s a blessing." Brooks won the 1994 world championship with the Houston Rockets, made the playoffs six times as a player, three times as an assistant coach and has seen chemistry work both ways. "I played on one particularly good team where important players on the team did not get along very well," Brooks said, refusing to name names. "And I played for a lot of teams that got along great and did not win a lot of games." Brooks often preaches team chemistry, a move that can backfire with a combustible roster. "We’re developing a good culture here," Brooks said, "but our guys understand it’s important to stick together and improve together and everybody will end up being successful." The trick is finding the right mixture of big talent and little egos, and Thunder general manager Sam Presti appears to have a velvet touch. "The new guys came in and just meshed right away," Durant said. "Guys come in and you automatically bond. Once you see that, it tells you what kind of team you are." Backup point guard Eric Maynor was acquired Dec. 22 from the Jazz and immediately noticed a unique chemistry. "First day I got here, I sensed it," Maynor said. "You can tell how well these guys get along. All of them are cool. Everybody gets along with each other, and you can go a long ways with that." It can be the difference between winning and losing.