Ty Lawson said something interesting after the Thunder’s 105-93 victory over Denver on Tuesday night. He said Scotty Brooks kept dialing up great out-of-bounds and out-of-timeout plays.
“Scott Brooks has plays hidden up his sleeve that he pulled out today,” Lawson said. “We didn’t prepare for them, and they were good plays.”
Interesting. I’ve never detected that the Thunder were terrors out of timeouts. But that doesn’t mean it’s not so.
So I checked it out. I looked at every Thunder possession – and every Nugget possession coming out of a timeout or to start a quarter.
And I didn’t see much. The Thunder had six possessions that came immediately after meeting with Brooks. OKC scored on three of those, which is a solid ratio. But one of the three baskets came after an offensive rebound, so that’s hardly an endorsement of a special play. Only Serge Ibaka’s bank shot to start the game and a Kevin Durant turnaround jumper in the fourth quarter came on the first shot of a possession.
But defensively? The Thunder was fantastic coming out of a huddle. Denver had six possessions after a timeout or at the start of a quarter. And didn’t score on any of the six.
Of course, that fits a league-wide trend, that timeouts actually help the defense more than the offense, because offensive success often comes from defensive compromise. Give the defense a chance to set, and its chances of success go way up.
So Lawson really didn’t know what he was talking about. But was he right in general? Does the Thunder do well out of timeouts?
Let’s go back to Sunday. The Thunder’s 101-98 survival of Orlando.
The Magic stopped the Thunder both times OKC had the ball to start the quarter. The Thunder four times had the ball coming out of a timeout; it scored twice, but once came on a second chance in the possession.
Orlando had the ball twice to start a quarter. It scored once and was stopped once. The Magic had the ball nine times coming out of timeouts; Orlando scored seven points on those plays, once a 3-pointer. So in that game, the Thunder’s offense and defense coming out of huddles was a little better than in the normal flow of play.
Against the Lakers last Friday, the Thunder scored on both possessions to start quarters, plus scored on four of five possessions coming out of a timeout. That’s five of seven, which is excellent. Meanwhile, the Lakers failed to score on all five possessions coming out of huddles.
Last week against Memphis, the Thunder went 4-for-4 out of huddles – twice at the start quarters, twice out of timeouts, including a Jeremy Lamb 3-pointers. That’s nine points on four possessions. Fabulous production. The Grizzlies scored both times starting a quarter but otherwise scored just once, coming out of six timeouts.
So that’s four games of data. The Thunder had 28 possessions coming out of a Foreman Scotty huddle – and scored 26 points. That’s a little less than OKC’s normal offensive output this season, 1.054 points per possession. Thunder opponents had 30 possessions coming out of huddles; they scored 16 points. That’s 0.53 points per possession. Way better than the 0.97 points per possession the Thunder is allowing this season.
I don’t have any idea how good of a timeout coach is Scotty Brooks. But I know this. The last four games, the Thunder coming out of huddles has been OK offensively but fantastic defensively.