OKC Thunder hits the road, where it's been successful

NBA — OKC has best overall record and best road record in the NBA this season
BY JOHN ROHDE, Staff Writer, jrohde@opubco.com Published: January 26, 2012

Eight times in the next 15 days the Thunder will play in enemy territory. Only once in the next nine games will OKC play inside the friendly confines of Chesapeake Energy Arena.

The Thunder schedule doesn't become friendly again until Valentine's Day, appropriately enough. That's when a sweetheart stretch begins with six homes games in a 10-day span, culminating with back-to-back appearances from the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 22-23 and followed by the All-Star break.

Such is the give and take of this year's brutally condensed 66-game schedule. But in case you haven't noticed, the road hasn't been such a bad place for the Thunder lately.

In the past three seasons, only Dallas and Miami have a better combined road record than OKC (see chart).

The Thunder (15-3) enters Friday's 9:30 p.m. contest at Golden State (6-11) with the best overall record and best road record (7-2) in the NBA this season.

Perhaps the most accurate gauge of a team's worth is its road record and how is stacks up against others, which could bode well for OKC the next couple of weeks.

"It shows how resilient a team is and how tough they are," two-time scoring champ Kevin Durant said. "We have some good road wins. Since I've been here we've been really good on the road, but it only takes a few games to get you off-track. Hopefully, we'll stay on course."

OKC coach Scott Brooks has been hanging around the league since 1988 as a point guard and a coach. He has won a bunch of road games, and also lost a bunch.

There are several components to being a good road team, but first thing's first.

"You have to have good players, no question," Brooks said. "They have to be able to defend, or you have to be able to score at a high level. We feel that we're a good team when we can do both."

There's also the overall mindset.

"Toughness is the number one thing I've always believed in," Brooks said. "You have to have toughness, and it's not flexing your muscles and showing everybody you're willing to fight. Toughness is making the simple plays and making the plays for your teammates."

When told that Brooks recommended having a powerful offense or an aggressive defense, starting guard Thabo Sefolosha smiled and chose defense. "Defend like crazy – definitely," Sefolosha said. "To do both would be great, but home or away, defense will help us win most."

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THUNDER AT WARRIORS

When: 9:30 p.m., Friday

Where: Oracle Arena, Oakland, Calif.

TV: NBA TV (Cox 256, HD Ch. 726); FS Oklahoma (Cox 37, HD Ch. 722)

Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, WWLS 640-AM

Three things to know

* After missing eight games with a recurring right ankle sprain, Warriors guard Stephan Curry erupted for 32 points against Portland in his third game back.

* Golden State started out 0-6 against Western Conference opponents, but Wednesday night's 101-93 victory against the Trail Blazers ended the streak.

* Former Thunder reserve guard Nate Robinson signed with the Warriors on Jan. 4 after being waived by OKC and is averaging 11.0 points and 5.0 assists.

PROJECTED STARTERS

Thunder (15-3)

Pos.; Player; Ht.; Pts.; Reb.; Ast.

G; Russell Westbrook; 6-3; 20.4; 4.7; 5.6

G; Thabo Sefolosha; 6-7; 5.3; 2.8; 0.9

F;Kevin Durant; 6-9; 25.7; 7.2; 3.3

F; Serge Ibaka; 6-10; 7.1; 6.4; 2.6-x

C;Kendrick Perkins; 6-10; 4.9; 5.8; 1.2-x

Warriors (6-11)

Pos.; Player; Ht.; Pts.; Reb.; Ast.

G; Monta Ellis; 6-3; 21.9; 2.9; 7.2

G; Stephen Curry; 6-3; 17.3; 4.4; 5.4

F; Dorell Wright; 6-9; 9.5; 4.7; 1.5

F; David Lee; 6-9; 18.8; 10.4; 2.3

C; Andris Biedrins; 7-0; 3.1; 5.1; 1.1-x

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