OKC players have adjusted to the NBA's strict enforcement of 90-second rule where teams must be ready for the opening tip 90 seconds after pregame introductions have been completed.
Thunder players had the most elaborate pregame rituals in the league, which frequently required 2½-3 minutes. Before Sunday night's 108-101 against the Denver Nuggets at Chesapeake Energy Arena, however, OKC's starters were on the court and ready for the tip with five seconds to spare.
“I took it as a sign of a team that has great chemistry,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said of his team's lengthy handshakes. “You never see guys who don't like each other hugging each other. It's a no-no in sports. When you have guys who … fist bump and do all their crazy things that they did, it was good. It gave us energy and juice before the game. We definitely have to adjust that. The league rules are 90 seconds. That was probably a third of our routine. We're going to have to get a guy who can choreograph one that's under 90 seconds.”
Last Tuesday night against Charlotte, Thunder forward Kevin Durant was still in the process of visiting each teammate when the opening tip took place.
“Kevin was running to the jump ball,” Brooks said with a grin. “I was laughing.”
TAKING A BREAK
Brooks said Durant will not play at Chicago on Tuesday night. Brooks said he also is considering sitting fellow All-Star Russell Westbrook.
Rookie Perry Jones III and Eric Maynor are possible replacements in the starting lineup for OKC's sixth preseason game.
The Thunder closes out the preseason on Wednesday night at Wichita, Kan., against the Dallas Mavericks.
The Nuggets hit 8 of 10 3-pointers in the first half, but went 2 for 12 in the second half to finish at 45.4 percent. … OKC shot 7 for 8 from the field to start the game while Denver started 1 for 7 and trailed 14-5. … Durant swished a running 55-footer at the third-quarter buzzer, but the shot was disallowed after replays showed he did not get the shot off in time. … The Thunder's biggest lead was 19 (49-30). The Nuggets' biggest lead was one on three occasions. … The Nuggets had held their previous three opponents under 100 until Sunday. … The game was a sellout (18,203), marking the fourth sellout in five preseason games for the Thunder. Games on Tuesday at Chicago and Wednesday at Wichita are both anticipated sellouts. … OKC shot just 12 free throws against Denver, but made 11 (. 917). … Denver's Danilo Gallinari shot 6 for 13 on 3-pointers and 3 of 8 on 2-pointers.
Brooks on his team's theatrical pregame rituals: “There's no question we probably led the league in fist bumps, hugs, dances, karate chops, kick boxing, shadow boxing, every imaginable thing.”
BY JOHN ROHDE