But last Thursday against the Clippers, the Thunder played a more complete game defensively.
And on Wednesday night against the Spurs, the defense was locked in from the start. Serge Ibaka blocked Tiago Splitter on the first shot of the game. Thabo Sefolosha hounded Splitter into a tough look on the next shot.
That set a tone that carried through the rest of the game.
The third quarter was when the Thunder really stepped on the Spurs' throats. The home team turned a three-point halftime deficit into a seven-point lead by holding the visitors to a 15-point quarter.
The Spurs were just 5 of 20 in the quarter.
What's more, in that frame, the Thunder have seven fast-break points. Easy baskets. Quick strikes. And they were all because of the defense.
Against the Spurs, getting out and running is vital. It plays to the Thunder's youth and athleticism. It puts the Spurs' plodding and methodical style at a disadvantage.
“We wanted to play faster,” Brooks said. “We wanted to play with a little more speed.
“Not just against them. That's how we play.”
But being able to do that requires playing great defense — and the Thunder did just that.
Frankly, keep up this kind of defensive effort and it could break this bunch out of its offensive struggles. Brooks admitted Wednesday that they just were not making shots early.
“Could not find the bucket,” he said.
But finding the bucket gets a lot easier when you have an uncontested look on the fast break.
The Thunder showed Wednesday that it can play the type of defense to beat the hottest team in the league. It showed that it is a force to be reckoned with.