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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

The Thunder can worry about crossing that bridge when it gets to it.

For now, the next 2 1/2 weeks will serve as a nice respite.

“It feels good,” said guard Daequan Cook. “Just looking at the schedule coming up, we're going to have a lot of days off or days just to come in and get shots up, especially on the road, which is going to be very important.”

Oklahoma City just aced a five-games-in-six-nights challenge, going 5-0 and winning by an average margin of nine points in the toughest stretch it'll see this season. That test was connected to a larger seven-games-in-10-days hurdle.

“One of the things that's tough when you play so many games is just mentally being ready,” Brooks said. “I think your body can handle it, but sometimes mentally you're just tired. And give our guys credit. For five games in six nights, they brought some good energy physically, and their mental toughness was there every game.”

If only from that standpoint, Thunder players can now exhale for a day.

“You don't have to be at that high every night because it's hard to get there.” Brooks said. “Our guys have done a great job with that. But now they can have a day's rest to recharge their batteries and come back the next game.”

But you didn't actually think Brooks would let his players recharge during the upcoming off days, did you?

“No,” Brooks said. “We push them. But they like to be pushed. That's why I enjoy coaching this group. They love the challenge.”

The practice days should now only benefit a Thunder team that was tied for the NBA's best record at 10-2 entering Friday night's games. Brooks said he will use the sessions to shore up individual areas, as well as team philosophies. Brooks singled out defensive rotations and offensive spacing and ball movement.

“We're off to a good start. We can't hide that fact,” Brooks said. “But we still have to find ways to get better, and we usually do that as a team very well.”