“We got things to work on, but we'll be fine,” Brooks said.
Implementing better ball movement and balance has been a focal point for the Thunder for years. The team, though still inconsistent, enjoyed its most success last season when it averaged 21.4 assists. But that figure still ranked in the bottom third of the league.
Westbrook's absence to start this season has presented the Thunder with an opportunity to shore up an area that has historically been problematic. The hope is that when Westbrook returns good habits will have been formed.
But old habits die hard.
The Thunder had only three assists after halftime Wednesday and none in the fourth quarter. The final period was most alarming. Durant and Reggie Jackson were the only two players to score for the Thunder, which made just four of 17 shots.
“I thought the ball movement was good at times,” Brooks said. “I thought in the fourth quarter, give them credit, they're a physical team. They slowed us up. We were getting late into our shot clock, so that kind of has a tendency to slow up the ball. But I thought for most of the game we had good ball movement. We missed a lot of shots that we normally make.”
Ibaka went 4-for-15 from the field, missing an array of midrange shots, runners and hooks. Despite his huge scoring night, Durant was just 9-for-24.
“Sometimes, that's how it goes,” Durant said. “We just got to stick with it.”
It's a long season.
“It's the first game,” Brooks said. “We're happy with the win. We're moving on to the next one.”