Following an abnormally long practice session on Monday afternoon, the Thunder’s doors opened to the media.
And it became immediately clear that the past three-plus hours had been spent in a state of reflection, filled with plenty of defensive soul-searching.
Kevin Durant sat on the opposite side of the court, deep in an extended conversation with Reggie Jackson. And then a stoic Scott Brooks strolled over, revealing some specifics on what had been a heavy defensive focus during the Thunder’s longest practice session of the regular season.
“We had 45 minutes, maybe an hour on the court,” Brooks said. “Then we went into the film room. Which was good. We needed them both today.”
The film session was around two hours. And, according to Nick Collison, told the full story of a typically stout defensive team that has completely lost its way.
Before the All-Star break, the Thunder gave up an impressive 99.3 points per 100 possessions. Since, OKC is yielding an ugly, nearly league-worst 108.3.
“I think film is a good truth-teller,” Collison said. “You need to be able to see the film and see the truth in who we really are right now...Just some recognition that we are playing poorly.”
Part of it could be blamed on the absence of Thabo Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins, two of OKC’s defensive cornerstones. But Collison said it’s not a personnel or even schematic issue – it’s an energy and effort problem.
“I don’t think that (it’s) new players,” Collison said. “Guys that have been here aren’t communicating well and aren’t playing with effort. We’re capable, and we recognize it.
“The defense has been bad. It’s now up to individuals to look at themselves and make corrections.”
In each of the Thunder’s past three losses – to the Cavs, Suns and Lakers – OKC has, at some point, held a double-digit second half lead.