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.
Against Cleveland, the Thunder had a 12-point third quarter cushion flip into a 10-point loss. Against Phoenix, OKC saw a 16-point lead, amazingly, vanish in under four minutes of game action.
And against the Lakers, the Thunder was burned by a 31-7 run that took less than seven minutes.
“When you have a lead like that, you have to still commit to it,” Brooks said. “You can’t relax, and I think the tendency is to relax and not be committed. Once you give up a couple shots, a couple threes, they get confidence and the momentum shifts.”
That’s happened far too many times to the Thunder of late.
Both of the Thunder’s sideline starters have amped up their recent activity.
After doing some brief stretching last week to test his injured groin, Perkins was spotted taking stationary post-practice jumpers on Monday.
And Sefolosha, who was seen on crutches last week, is again walking and, according to Brooks, doing some light court work.
But neither should be expected back any time soon.
“We still don’t know when they’re coming back,” Brooks said. “We still have a lot of days until they’re coming back.”
SHOOTING GUARD REMAINS FLUID
Despite the fact that Perry Jones has started every game in Sefolosha’s absence, Brooks is maintaining the notion that OKC’s starting shooting guard spot remains a fluid situation.
“There still could be some movement there,” Brooks said. “That’s always in the pocket.”
But, Brooks said, that shouldn’t be considered an indictment on Jones’ recent play.
“I don’t think Perry has done a bad job,” Brooks said. “He’s an improving player. Still hasn’t had a lot of minutes in this league, but I like his potential.”
STAT OF THE DAY
Via ESPN Stats and Info, the Thunder franchise allowed back-to-back 40-point games (Gerald Green 41, Jodie Meeks 42) for the first time since the Sonics let it happen during the 2000-01 season.