As long as his team is able to take two steps forward after taking one step back, Thunder coach Scott Brooks said he can live with the results.
Brooks willingly accepts a gradual maturation while coaching the NBA's third-youngest roster.
Not coincidentally, taking two steps forward and one step back directly correlates to not losing two straight games. In this regard, the Thunder has excelled this season with an 8-1 record after a loss.
â€œThat is no easy feat in this league,â€ said Brooks, raising both eyebrows as a salute to his team.
If two-in-a-row officially constitutes a streak, the Thunder has five winning streaks so far this season and just one losing streak.
Effort no doubt is a key reason the Thunder has been able to bounce back after a loss, but NBA scoring champ Kevin Durant said good brains also have played a role.
â€œWe've got a group of guys who have high basketball IQs,â€ Durant said. â€œThe best thing about being able to do it (recover from a loss) is we know what we did wrong, and we make adjustments. Really good teams can lose two straight, three straight, four straight in any given week. But we learn from our mistakes.â€
The only time the Thunder (20-10) has failed to win after a loss was Nov. 3, a humiliating 107-92 road setback against the Los Angeles Clippers. That followed the Thunder's first loss of the season, a 120-99 clinic at home delivered by Utah.
The opportunity to win a ninth straight time after a loss comes at 7 p.m. on Christmas Day with a nationally televised game (ESPN) against Denver inside Oklahoma City Arena.
There are easier teams to play than the Nuggets (16-11), who have a propensity to run up big numbers. Denver has the perfect counterattack against an inconsistent Thunder defense that has disappeared far too frequently.
The last time the Thunder practiced was Monday, the same day it departed for a back-to-back trip to Charlotte and New York, and the day after OKC's gut-wrenching loss against a short-handed Phoenix team that was missing three players thanks to a pending six-player trade with Orlando.
Brooks wasn't pleased with his team's defensive effort against the Suns, who sizzled at 57.5 percent from the field while showcasing future hall of famers Grant Hill (38 years old) and Steve Nash (36).
"We flushed it out (Monday) at practice," Brooks said of correcting his team's woes.
Flushed it out how? Emotionally? Verbally? Physically?
â€œEverything,â€ Brooks said. â€œWe were playing good defense for a while this season. It wasn't always great, but we're always striving to be better. But that game, we took a step back. As long as we take one step back and a couple forward, we're still going to be in good shape.â€
Defensive progress was shown at Charlotte, where the Thunder applied the clamps and outscored the Bobcats 31-12 in the fourth quarter and allowed just four points in the first 9:08 of the period.
OKC regressed one night later inside Madison Square Garden, where the Knicks handed out 30 assists, shot 48.8 percent from the field and buried 10 of 21 3-pointers.