Tyson Chandler sat in the visitor's locker room recapping his team's shootout victory over the Thunder with slurred speech and a mandatory safety net.
The New York Knicks center had a chipped tooth, and the mouthpiece he wore while conducting his postgame interview helped keep it from falling out yet resulted in a lisp.
“Good old Melo,” Chandler said, identifying teammate Carmelo Anthony as the culprit.
In between squeezing off a game-high 29 shots, seemingly gunning for (and getting) the lead in the scoring race in his only head-to-head battle this season with Kevin Durant, Anthony actually did some dirty work.
He busted up Chandler's mouth while grabbing one of his nine offensive rebounds and going back up for a putback.
That's how bad Anthony and the Knicks wanted Sunday afternoon's 125-120 win.
Meanwhile, down the hall in the home locker room, the Thunder again downplayed its biggest defensive deficiency and expressed little concern despite how things appear to be getting worse rather than better as the playoffs approach.
“I'm not concerned,” Durant said when asked directly about the team's rebounding woes.
Yet the only consistent thing about the Thunder's defense seems to be inconsistency.
Oklahoma City followed up its best defensive performance of the season with one of its worst. After holding Indiana to eight points on 2-for-18 shooting in the fourth quarter Friday, the Thunder allowed a season high for points, yielded at least 30 points in three quarters (and 29 in the fourth) and allowed 19 offensive rebounds.
The rebounding was the worst of all evils.
That's because Sunday marked the fifth time in the past 10 games that the Thunder has allowed at least 16 offensive rebounds. The Knicks converted their 19 offensive boards into 23 second-chance points.
“We just gave up too many offensive rebounds,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “When we did make them miss they got 19 offensive rebounds and 23 putback points. That's not good. We should not be able to give up both of them.”
After out-rebounding the Pacers, the league's best rebounding team, by 22, Sunday's showing was the equivalent of five steps back after one step forward.
In its past 10 games, the Thunder has allowed 14 offensive rebounds. By comparison, the league's high mark is Milwaukee's 12.3.
“We just have to go back to the basics,” Brooks said. “We're going to talk about it and we have been talking about it. The basics of rebounding is blocking out. It's not rebounding. The rebound comes after a block out. If you focus on rebounding there's too many athletes in this league that it's a 50-50 ball. You block out first and then you go get the rebound.”
So are the players not blocking out enough?
“It's a combination,” Brooks said. “Everybody has to think rebound. We're such a high, explosive offensive transition team that we can't think about that until we secure the ball. That's just something that we will brush up on and try to get better at that the last five games.”
New York committed an opponent season-low six turnovers Sunday and also made 15 of 34 3-pointers, completing a comprehensive day of defensive frustration, one that continued the troubling trend of the Thunder struggling against the league's best.
Now, only five games are left to figure it out, to find that defensive toughness, tenacity and consistency which has eluded the Thunder for much of the year.
Today, it was just a disappointing regular season loss.
Soon, the same issues could be much more costly.
“We just have to learn from this and move on as quickly as we can,” Brooks said.