By the end of the month, the Oklahoma City Thunder expects to have a stronger bond.
If so, the team will know exactly why.
“I think we had so many home games and we've played so well this season that this month is going to build a lot of relationships that none of us really have had,” said guard Kevin Martin. “Being on the road so much and being in other environments, we'll have to go through some times with these guys on the road and it should build a lot of camaraderie.”
Sunday's win at Toronto was the start of a stretch in which the Thunder will play 11 of 13 away from Chesapeake Energy Arena. Up next for OKC is the league-worst Washington Wizards in D.C. on the second night of a back-to-back.
“I think it's going to be good for all of us, especially since it's a new group,” Martin said. “At home, you're pretty comfortable with going to the gym and right afterward going home. But after practices on the road you've got bus rides and guys go out to eat. So I feel like, in my situation, I'm going to get more comfortable with these guys over this next month on the road. That's one thing I'm looking forward to, just keep on building our relationships which will help us on the court.”
HOCKEY IS BACK
In Canada, the Thunder-Raptors game took a backseat to news that broke early Sunday about the NHL coming to an agreement on a new labor deal, effectively ending a 113-day lockout.
In the Thunder's locker room, players obviously could relate to what their hockey counterparts might be feeling.
“I haven't really been following it, but I hope they got the deal they wanted,” said Russell Westbrook. “I don't really know how the hockey thing works, how much players get paid and things like that. But I'm pretty sure when somebody loses their job or are out of work it hurts.”
ANDERSON GETS HOT
The Thunder found itself locked in a battle when Raptors reserve guard Alan Anderson scored 19 points in the second quarter to pump life into his Toronto teammates and the crowd.
Anderson, who went undrafted in 2005 out of Michigan State and has bounced around throughout Europe and the NBA D-league, scored a game-high 27 points on 10 of 14 shooting. He made four of eight 3-pointers and all three of his free throws.
“He was good,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “He made four 3s in that first half. He was automatic. And then with his mid-range game and his drive, he made a couple of layups. He's a good player. I give him a lot of credit because he's been throughout the league a little bit in his short career, but I think he's found a home and he's taking advantage of it.”
Toronto coach Dwane Casey — “I'll tell you what, they are one of the most talented and well-coached teams in the league. I have the utmost respect for Scotty, for him growing the program the way he's done from scratch. He took the losses early. He and Sam (Presti) worked together and did a good job of building that program.”
The Thunder improved to 4-1 on Sundays this season. … OKC is now 9-4 on the road. ... With a win over the Raptors, the Thunder is now 5-2 in the first game of a back-to-back set. … Kendrick Perkins grabbed seven rebounds Sunday, the third straight game that he's had at least seven boards. … The Thunder made 22 of 24 free throws Sunday, a 91.7 percent clip. … Washington is without guard John Wall, who hasn't played all season with a knee injury. … Wizards guard Jordan Crawford is fourth in the NBA in scoring off the bench at 16 points per game. … Washington has used 12 different starting lineups this season. Oklahoma City has used just one.