A day after Kevin Durant said Serge Ibaka's shooting struggles were all in his mind, Ibaka admitted that his confidence is waning.
“Yeah,” Ibaka said. “It's normal, man. It's normal. A little bit. But that does not mean my confidence is way down because after all the shots I missed, after the (missed) dunk, I was still playing defense. I wanted to still help my teammates. I wanted to still try to be aggressive. But it's normal like he said. Of course, that happens to everybody.”
Ibaka suggested his shots in this series might be too easy.
“Most of the time when you're open that's when it's tough to make shots because you try to get some different focus than normally when some guys try to contest your shots,” Ibaka said. “So that's happened.”
Ibaka said his focus now is just moving forward.
“Like people say, if you think about the past you cannot get better in the next one,” Ibaka said. “So right now I'm trying to do the best I can to forget about (Saturday) night's game and be focused the next game and try to be aggressive.”
The company line Sunday was a short and simple one.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks said a variation of that phrase five times in his 10-minute interview session with reporters, and every player that spoke to the media reiterated similar sentiments.
“We realize the only thing missing right now is us making shots, and that's something we've been doing all year,” said Kevin Martin. “But I think we prepared ourselves (Sunday) to start hitting some shots (Monday) night. And we better.”
Asked how the team prepared to make more shots, Martin said players “got up more shots.”
“It was mostly a shooting practice,” Martin said. “We did everything well in the game (Saturday) except for hit shots. That's the easiest part of the game. We get that under control we'll be fine.”
Despite shooting just 39.9 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from 3-point range offensively, OKC's defense has remained solid against the Grizzlies.
Memphis is shooting 41.7 percent from the field and 31.3 percent from 3-point range, which is well below its season averages of 44.4 and 34.5 percent.
“That's one of the things I love about our guys,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “Usually when the shot doesn't go in, (a team's) defensive level drops off. That hasn't been the case. That's a testament to their commitment to win.”
BROOKS LAUDS FISHER
The Thunder's offensive woes are not related to Derek Fisher. Even after Fisher was 3 for 8 from the field (1 for 5 from 3-point range) in Game 3, Brooks praised the veteran guard.
“Fish is playing out of his mind, thank goodness,” Brooks said.
Fisher has averaged 11.7 points against Memphis and is 12 for 24 (. 500) from the field, including 7 for 13 (. 538) from 3-point range.
FOUL SHOTS NEEDED
Kevin Martin and Ibaka each shot 6 for 17 from the field in Game 3, but combined for just two foul shots.
Ibaka got two foul shots less than four minutes into the game, and that came on a fast-break opportunity. So in half-court offenses, Martin and Ibaka never got to the foul line.
“We didn't get to the free-throw line other than KD,” Brooks said of Kevin Durant, who had nine of the Thunder's 19 foul shots, but made only five. “We have to somehow get to the free-throw line. We've always been a good free-throw shooting team. We didn't make them at the percentage we'd like (. 632), but we didn't get there as much as we're accustomed to getting there.”
Brooks on his team's offensive woes: “This is a broken record, but I know we can hit shots. I've seen the ball go in the basket many, many times with our team and I have confidence that will happen, and hopefully soon.”