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Self-improvement is the key for the OKC Thunder

No matter the first-round playoff opponent, getting better on defense is what Scott Brooks will preach as the regular season winds down.
By John Rohde, Staff Writer, Published: April 17, 2012

In Brooks' eyes, defense is paramount. No need to concentrate on the offense, which presumably will always be there thanks to two-time scoring champion Kevin Durant, super human sidekick Russell Westbrook and pending Sixth Man of the Year James Harden.

But then came Monday's second-half debacle against the Clippers that left everyone shaking their heads, at least momentarily.

The second-half numbers against the Clippers were so atrocious, they were hard to fathom even one day later after the Thunder arrived in the desert and basked in 90-degree heat.

The following were all season lows for OKC from Monday night: 25 points in a half; 11 points in the fourth quarter; 27 field goals made; .375 field-goal percentage for the game; 0 for 11 from 3-point range in a half; .290 field-goal percentage for a half.

It also was the Thunder's largest margin of defeat, thanks to being nearly being doubled-up on the scoreboard in the second half, 49-25. All this after OKC led 52-43 at halftime.

Despite Monday's second-half implosion, the Thunder remains the most efficient offense in the league, according to ESPN's John Hollinger.

The Thunder originally had a practice scheduled for early Tuesday afternoon in Phoenix. Instead, players were given the day off with an optional day of weight training.

Players were not made available for interviews, but perhaps Brooks opted for a day off to help players clear their minds.

Thunder at Phoenix

When: 9 p.m. Wednesday

Where: US Airways Center, Phoenix

TV: FS Oklahoma (Cox 37, HD Ch. 722)


Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, WWLS 640-AM

 Three things to know

* The Thunder is 2-0 against the Suns this season, with both victories coming in OKC: 107-97 on New Year's Eve and 115-104 on March 7.

* Russell Westbrook averaged 24.5 points, 7.0 assists and 3.0 steals and shot 54.3 percent from the field against Phoenix the first two games.

* Westbrook, Kevin Durant (21.0), James Harden (20.0), Serge Ibaka (13.0) and Thabo Sefolosha (12.0) have averaged double-digits vs. the Suns.


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