OKC Thunder notebook: Mutual respect continues between Thunder, Spurs

by Mel Bracht Published: June 5, 2012

“It's a great crowd,” Brooks said Tuesday afternoon. “It's fun to see them come out and support our guys. Our guys love it. You never get tired of that, as long as they're cheering. It was great to see them.”

SAME APPROACH

Brooks constantly preaches he wants his players not to get too high after a win or too low after a loss.

Given the significant circumstances surrounding Game 6 on Wednesday at 8 p.m. at Chesapeake Energy Arena, does Brook truly not want his players to ride the positive emotion of a three-game winning streak and parlay that into a possible conference title and a spot in the NBA Finals?

“Really, it's not something that we just say. We believe in it,” Brooks said. “It's one game, one day, and you have to focus on that. I mean, it's always the first of four in the series. We have (won) three games, we have one more to go. We have a great opportunity. We're on our home floor, but that doesn't guarantee automatic victory. They're not going to give us the game. They're not just going to say we lost three in a row, we're going to give in. We know we have a tough challenge ahead. We know we have a great opportunity, although we just have to play with the same energy, the same force, the same determination that we did the last few games. But it's always been that way with our guys. Our guys really believe in work and they believe in doing it every day.”

MAN ON MANU

Brooks said he anticipated Ginobili would start Game 5 for the Spurs, which he did with resounding results.

There were no massive changes when it was discovered Ginobili would start ahead of Danny Green. Westbrook was to defend Green and simply inherited Ginobili.

“They've changed their lineups before, but it didn't change our thinking, our thinking that we had to guard a very good player like we have to guard whoever we're guarding,” Brooks said. “And we know Ginobili is one of their most competitive winners in this league they've ever seen. At either end of the floor, he really gets after it and makes winning plays constantly. He has a knack for making big shots, he has a knack for making a big play with a pass and he has a knack for stealing the basketball.

“I thought Russell did a good job on him and he still had a lot of points, and they definitely weren't all against Russell.”

TURNOVER TROUBLES

So far in the WCF, the Thunder and Spurs are extremely close in several team statistics. However, OKC holds a significant edge in blocked shots (36-20), steals (52-23), free-throw percentage (. 833-. 713) and turnovers (61-83).

“They are very active. They are young, athletic, long, and it's not the first time that happened,” Ginobili said of the Spurs committing 21 turnovers in Game 5 that led to 28 points for the Thunder. “Yeah, it was one of the worst parts of our game. When we give them the ball that easy, they just punish you. They are good, and if you just say, 'Here you go, attack,' you have no chance. So if we couldn't have done that, our chances could have increased. So we've really got to take care of the ball a little bit more. If not, we have no chance (to win the series).”

STUCK IN SECOND

In the last three games (all losses), the Spurs have been outscored 87-57 in the second quarter.

“We have (stunk) in the second quarter,” Popovich said before Game 5. “I don't know what else to tell you. The third game we're ahead at the end of the first quarter, and the (fourth) game we're tied at the end of the first quarter. You know, if you're on the road, you feel good about that in the Western Conference Finals. You have a good start, everything is hunky-dory and then it just left a crack in both of those quarters.

“The whole third quarter you're fighting to get back in it, so we've looked at who is on the court, what we're doing offensively, and mostly we've lost our pace in the second quarter. (We've) gotten to the half-court game. With these guys, that's tough. They're quick. They're long. They're athletic. They are what they are. They're really tough.”

CONFIDENCE LEVEL

Asked after Game 5 for an update on his team's attitude, Popovich said: “Well, the confidence level stays high. We're one of four teams out of 30. We're here for a reason, and I'll be on them, and I'm very sure they'll come out ready to go. You know, championship teams win on the road, and Oklahoma City just did that. So they've proven they're a championship-caliber team.

“We have to go do that. If we can't win on Wednesday, we're not a championship-caliber team. It's as simple as that. You look at anybody who's won championships, and they've won on the road as the process goes along. It's what you do. And they just did it. So we need to do the same thing to hold serve.”

'THUNDER LIVE' ON FSOK

 The "Thunder Live" postgame show will return to Fox Sports Oklahoma for Game 6. The show with studio analyst Stephen Howard and local Thunder announcers aired on Fox Sports Plus for Game 5.

QUOTABLE

Ginobili on if the Spurs will be able to recover emotionally after their third straight loss: “Do we have another choice? It's not (like) we have a Game 8 or 9 to recover, so it's either win or go home. So we have to. It's our job. Nobody is going to feel sorry about ourselves, we've just got to go compete. We know it's hard to beat them there, but it's what we have to do. We've got to step up and play the best game of the season.”


by Mel Bracht
Copy Editor, Sports Media
Mel Bracht is a copy editor on the presentation desk and also covers sports media. A 1978 graduate of Indiana University, Bracht has been a print journalist for 34 years. He started his career as sports editor of the Rensselaer (Ind.) Republican...
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