Tuesday's practice represented a fresh start for the Thunder thanks to two fresh faces.
The arrivals of guards Derek Fisher and Ronnie Brewer broke some of the mid-season monotony that often coincides with the dog days of January and February in the NBA. The team's first outing with the new arrivals in uniform was a 119-74 romp over the New Orleans Hornets (20-39), who were incredibly shorthanded without rookie center Anthony Davis (sprained shoulder) and guard Eric Gordon (rest).
The 45-point victory matches the Thunder's largest of the season (114-69 over Charlotte on Nov. 26) and marks the first time since 1994 the SuperSonics/Thunder franchise posted back-to-back victories by 30-plus points. OKC (42-15) defeated Chicago 102-72 on Sunday.
Brewer started the fourth quarter and finished with five points and two steals. Fisher did not score in 20½ minutes, shot 0 for 4 (all from 3-point range) and has two assists.
Asked if the presence of Fisher and Brewer might end up being better than even he anticipated, Thunder coach Scott Brooks said: “I knew what we were getting with Fish, but it's definitely (that way) with Brewer. I still have to understand how he's going to fit in. … It's going to be a feel thing. I want to make sure we put him in a good position and he's comfortable and I'm comfortable and the team's comfortable. All that being said, there's not a lot of minutes to be had.
“In order to be on a good team, you have to have good players, and when you have good players, somebody has to play less minutes than the others.
The backup point guard, the way we play, is not a statistical position. It's a position of connection. It's a position of ability to impact the game and winning ways that it doesn't show up on the stat sheet.”
What did Thunder starting guard Thabo Sefolosha like most about Wednesday's performance?
“Everything,” He said. “The way we talk, the way we play with passion, and the way we share the ball offensively. I think we feed off of our defense and I think that is great.”
OKC, which has led the NBA in free-throw percentage the last three seasons, made its first 25 free-throw attempts Wednesday and finished 27 for 28 (.964).
In the last five games, the Thunder is 130 for 138 (.942) from the line.
Russell Westbrook finished 12 for 12, Kevin Durant went 6 for 6, Sefolosha 4 for 4, Kevin Martin 2 for 2 and the lone miss came from Perry Jones III, who was 3 for 4.
ROCK OF AGES
Fisher (38 years, 202 days) is the league's sixth-oldest active player behind New York's Kurt Thomas (40 years, 146 days), Los Angeles Clippers' Grant Hill (40 years, 145 days), New York's Jason Kidd (39 years, 341 days), LA Lakers' Steve Nash (39 years, 20 days) and New York's Marcus Camby (38 years, 342 days).
The Thunder is now 26-4 (.867) at home and 19-1 (.950) at home against Western Conference opponents. … OKC shot 55.3 percent from the field and the Hornets shot 35.1 percent. The Thunder is 20-1 this season when shooting 50-plus percent from the field, 14-0 when its opponent shoots less than 40 percent and has won 11 straight when the opponent scores less than 90. … With this season's four-game sweep, OKC is 12-6 all-time against the Hornets with eight straight victories. … Had Hornets guard and Putnam City High School standout Xavier Henry remained in college, he would be a senior at Kansas this season. Henry had nine points in 24 minutes against the Thunder. … OKC center Kendrick Perkins had back-to-back blocks on the same Hornets possession in the third quarter, rejecting Greivis Vasquez first and then Robin Lopez. Perkins finished with four blocks in 23 minutes. His career high is seven blocks (twice).
Brooks on why the Thunder re-signed Fisher: “He's still a player. Trust me, we're not bringing him in here just to tell us good stories about Kobe (Bryant) and Shaq (O'Neal), how they won championships and he was the guy. We're not going to eat S'mores together. We're going to play him. He's going to play.”