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OKC Thunder: Defense must get Thunder through upcoming stretch without Russell Westbrook

Numbers — so far — indicate this might be Thunder's best defense. “I believe so,” Kendrick Perkins said.
by Anthony Slater Published: January 1, 2014

And there's no reason to believe the Thunder won't.

Through 31 games, OKC's defense has been both dominant and consistent. Opponents make only 41.5 percent of shots against the Thunder, second lowest in the league. And not once has the Thunder allowed a team to shoot better than 49 percent.

Even the Pacers — whose opponents make an NBA-low 41.1 percent of shots — experience some slip-ups. OKC shot 61 percent against them on Dec. 8.

“I think we bringing along the young guys,” Perkins said, explaining that the Thunder doesn't have a defensive weak link. “You got guys who trying to get physical. Jeremy Lamb done impressed me the most with his toughness. He's getting down and dirty a little bit, getting in there on the rebounding.”

To win the title, OKC clearly needs a healthy and productive Westbrook.

But to maintain during his midseason absence — which includes a stretch of seven straight games against sub-. 500 teams, starting on Thursday against Brooklyn — the Thunder will rely on its disruptive and hounding defense.

Not a bad bet, considering it's likely the best this unit has ever been.

by Anthony Slater
Thunder Beat Writer
Anthony Slater started on the Thunder beat in the summer of 2013, joining after two years as's lead sports blogger and web editor. A native Californian, Slater attended Sonoma State for two years before transferring to Oklahoma State in...
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