OKC Thunder notebook: Thunder starters' minutes grow; bench shrinks

During the regular season, Thunder coach Scott Brooks will stick to his substitution pattern through thick and thin. He tries to keep the same concept in the playoffs, if at all possible.
BY JOHN ROHDE AND JENNI CARLSON Published: May 20, 2012
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LONG TIME AGO

Until Saturday night's 13-point comeback in the final 8:02 by the Thunder, the Lakers had not lost a home playoff game when leading by nine or more points entering the fourth quarter since 1983, according to TNT.

That was the game in which the Philadelphia 76ers, led by All-Star point guard and Thunder assistant coach Maurice Cheeks, completed their sweep over the Lakers in the NBA Finals by outscoring LA 33-15 in the final quarter at the Fabulous Forum in Inglewood, Calif.

Cheeks finished with 20 points, seven assists and two steals in the 115-108 victory.

NEVER QUIT

Brooks was at a loss for words after Game 4 to explain exactly how his team came back against the Lakers.

“I don't know if we learned anything, other than we already knew you have to play 48 minutes,” Brooks said. “We have that never-quit mentality. It's great to have. It's great to coach. It's great to be around. There were times (Saturday) night when things did not look good. They had everything going for them early. Making shots. Getting stops. We just seemed like a step slow, but we came back and fought. We made it close with our defense and that's what we've done all year.”

PERK'S PRAISE

Perkins is not a big fan of Gasol — What is it you don't like about Gasol? “Everything,” Perkins has said — but he continually heaps praise upon Bynum, who early in Game 4 showed how dominating he can be.

In the first quarter, Bynum had 10 points, three rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block and shot 5 for 5 from the field.

Bynum was 7 for 8 from the field at one point before having a shot blocked by Perkins and another blocked by Durant.

In the first half, Bynum had 14 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two blocks and steal. In the second half, he had four points, two rebounds, one steal and one block.

“Bynum, he's a big guy who can hold his spot on the low post, and it's not easy fronting him,” Brooks said of defending the 7-foot, 285-pound Bynum. “Everybody has to be locked in and on the same page (defensively), because if you make one mistake, it's a layup. If we have one breakdown, it takes an incredible effort by Serge to block a shot, or Nick to take a charge, or Russell to get a steal.”

SMELLS FISHY

The shot that started the Thunder's fourth-quarter comeback was a 3-pointer in the left corner from Fisher, a former Lakers point guard who was cheered by three-fourths of the Lakers fans at Staples Center and booed by the others.

“That's what he does. That's who he is,” Brooks said of the 37-year-old Fisher. “He loves the game, he has passion for the game and he's a winner. I can never emphasize that enough. He's a winner and you can never have enough of those on your team. That shot (to make he score 91-81) was huge. His leadership, you can't put a win total on it, but you know the effect it's having on our guys. He talks. He communicates. He's a great leader.”

QUOTABLE

Brooks, after the team charter had to circle an hour before landing due to high winds: “It wasn't good for my stomach. You could throw me on a swing and I'm going to get sick.”


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