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Thunder: Back-to-back losses will keep team from getting lax

Thunder veteran Nick Collison said setbacks to Dallas and Portland only shows that team has areas to improve.
BY DARNELL MAYBERRY, Staff Writer, dmayberry@opubco.com Published: January 4, 2012
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At the other end, Durant scored at least 30 points in four of those first five, single-handedly bailing out an occasionally sloppy offense with his scoring brilliance. Collectively, the Thunder was averaging 19.8 assists against 18.4 turnovers.

“We played well enough to win those games, but there were still stretches in all of those games where we struggled,” Collison said.

The same struggles ultimately are what have led to the past two losses.

Against Dallas, the Thunder had just 12 assists and committed 14 turnovers. The lack of ball movement led to just 40.3 percent shooting, a season-low 87 points and, subsequently, a 13-point drubbing. Meanwhile, the defensive mistakes became more pronounced, as the Mavs shot a season-high 48.8 percent and racked up 56 points in the paint.

Against Portland, the Thunder's late-game execution issues resulted in the Blazers outscoring OKC 52-40 in the second half, while Portland held the home team to 34.2 percent shooting over the final 24 minutes. More one-on-one offense again became the source of the Thunder's undoing, whereas the Blazers used effective ball screens and ball movement to get high-percentage shots.

“It seems like we're 40 feet from the basket trying to create something a lot,” Collison said. “So our overall offense needs to get better.”

Although technically an off day, Wednesday was used as a light day by players and coaches to return to the gym and shore up problem areas. Thursday's session will be much of the same. Collison said the team needs to have a good practice Thursday and break down film to focus on the areas that have been problematic.

“We obviously need to improve on a lot of things,” Collison said. “But we still like our team. We just need to play better.”