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Thunder: Although brief, Thunder enjoying normal schedule

Oklahoma City has been in the practice gym just twice since opening the NBA season on Christmas.
BY DARNELL MAYBERRY, Staff Writer, Published: January 13, 2012

Sift through all the statistics you can stomach, basic or advanced. We'd give you 50 guesses, and chances are you still wouldn't stumble upon the most shocking stat of the season for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Here's a clue. The number is two.

OK, ready for the answer?

That's how many practices the Thunder has had since opening the season on Christmas. And, amazingly, No. 2 came only on Friday.

Such is life in a lockout-shortened season in which the schedule has been condensed and the games have been compressed. In its first 12 games, the Thunder has played four back-to-backs and its lone back-to-back-to-back.

Over these first three weeks, the Thunder has had only six days between games. Only two of those dates have not followed back-to-back sets, which NBA teams rarely hitch a practice session to. One of those two dates, New Year's Day, was reserved for a travel day.

The only two practices thus far have been Jan. 5, the day before the start of the team's three-games-in-three-nights test, and Friday in preparation for Saturday night's game against New York.

“Looking at it, we knew we were going to play a lot of games in not a lot of nights,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “But now, it seems like there's a game, a day off, kind of a normal schedule.”

Ah, normalcy. The Thunder will welcome it back, at least for the time being, Saturday.

Starting with the Knicks, the Thunder's next nine games will be stand-alone contests unattached to another on an ensuing day. The upcoming slate even includes an uncharacteristically convenient two days off in between games against Washington and New Jersey, as well as two days between Golden State and the L.A. Clippers.

Assuming the Thunder utilizes each day rather than reserve any off days for travel, the team could have nine practice sessions over the upcoming stretch.

“It is nice having some days off between games,” Brooks said. “But it's all going to come back and we're going to have a bunch of games before the All-Star break where we're going to have a bunch of back-to-back games.”

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