Following Sunday's Game 1 loss to Memphis, the Thunder held a player's only film session and dinner at Kevin Durant's home. The entire team watched the 114-101 loss and analyzed what went wrong.
According to a report first published by Yahoo! Sports, Kendrick Perkins was the mastermind behind the idea.
“Perk did it,” Durant told the website. “He wanted us to do it, and everybody listens to Perk. We talked about how we didn't come out with any energy. We wanted to see it over again to see that we never wanted to play like that again. That's the kind of feeling we had coming into (Game 2), and it helped us. Guys spoke up on what other guys should have done better. We made sure that we helped each other out. That's the biggest thing.”
Said Perkins: “We had to get a reminder and watch the film without the coaches telling us anything. We had to correct each other.”
Thunder coach Scott Brooks knew Monday the players were planning a gathering that night. And he couldn't have been prouder of his young team.
“That's the good thing about our team,” Brooks said. “They weren't happy with the way they played. And I love the fact that they care so much. I'm not saying that the majority of the teams wouldn't have done that. But they're a close-knit group. They're always with each other and hanging out with each other. And they were disappointed, as we all were.
“I've always told them we have to figure out things together, and it's not my way, it's not your way, it's the best way. And they took it upon themselves to watch the film, and I think it's great. That shows great leadership and that shows that our team is growing up right in front of our eyes … It shows that we are committed to playing better.”
BROOKS STICKS UP FOR WESTBROOK
On Wednesday, Brooks came as close as he'll ever come to lashing out on a topic.
It was no surprise it had to do with the growing criticism and scrutiny surrounding point guard Russell Westbrook.
“With Russell, we analyze ever possession,” Brooks started. “I do that myself when we break down the films. But it seems like everybody's breaking down the film. They're like, in my meetings or in my head. It's not fair to him.”
Brooks then brought up Westbrook's achievements and how far he's come in such short time, developing into an All-Star and helping to lead the Thunder to back-to-back playoff appearance despite playing mostly at off guard in college.
“He gets criticized for every bad game,” Brooks said. “He's not the only player that has a bad game. He's not going to be the only player in the future that has bad games. But the only thing I can say about that is Russell knows what he needs to do. And we talk to him and he's coachable and he wants to get better.
“He controls his improvement, and he has done that. He doesn't listen to the critics because you can't. You have to be hard on yourself and he is. And I'm hard on him. And we have an understanding that we only get better when he continues to improve. And he has improved for three straight years. And that's all I ask for.”
When asked if Westbrook is the most overanalyzed point guard in NBA history, Brooks didn't hesitate to put him near the top of the list.
“Maybe not the history,” Brooks said. “But for what he's accomplished in three years, absolutely. He's right up there.”
IBAKA INJURIES NOT BELIEVED TO BE SERIOUS
The Thunder had an off day Wednesday, and Brooks did not have an update on Serge Ibaka by the time the coach addressed the media.
“I just know he twisted his ankle and bumped knees,” Brooks said.
Team officials didn't think the injury was serious.
REX RYAN PICKS THE THUNDER TO WIN IT ALL
New York Jets coach Rex Ryan is picking the Thunder to win this year's NBA title.
Ryan was born in Ardmore in 1962. He played football at Southwestern Oklahoma State and coached the defense at OU in 1998. He made the prediction during an appearance on ESPN's NFL Live, telling host Trey Wingo he made the pick with “my hand over my heart. I'm from Oklahoma.”
THREE-DAY BREAK FORCED BY THE SCHEDULE
The three-day break between Game 2 and Game 3 between the Thunder and Grizzlies was a result of scheduling uncertainty of the previous series between Memphis and San Antonio.
If the Grizzlies-Spurs series went seven games, they would have played Game 7 on Sunday. The first game between the Thunder and the winner between Memphis and San Antonio would have been Tuesday, with Game 2 on Thursday and Game 3 on Saturday.
But since Memphis beat San Antonio in six, Game 1 of the Thunder-Grizzlies was played on Sunday. Game 2 was Tuesday and Game 3 was always slotted to be played Saturday.