With Monday night's 95-89 victory over New Orleans, the Thunder is now 6-4 inside Oklahoma City Arena this season, but coach Scott Brooks doesn't buy into the theory his team might be feeling more pressure at home trying to please its fans.
â€œYou always want to have your home crowd go home happy,â€ Brooks said. â€œI don't feel that we have more pressure. We've just had some tough losses against good teams. You'd still like to give yourself a chance to win those tough games, and we've got to do a better job of that.â€
In addition to the Hornets, the Thunder has lost at home to Utah by 21, Boston by nine, San Antonio by 13 and Dallas by eight. Those five teams have a combined record of 54-15 (.783).
The Thunder is 6-2 on the road against teams with a combined record of 54-46 (.540).
Monday's win might have left Brooks gloating a little bit. Like most coaches, Brooks constantly preaches how defense can often win games when a team's offense is struggling.
The Thunder shot 37.8 percent from the field (32.4 percent in the second half) and committed 18 turnovers, yet still was able to beat a 12-4 team that was the league's lone unbeaten this season at 8-0.
â€œI love winning basketball with toughness,â€ Brooks said. â€œThat's what I'm about. That's what our team's about. That's what our city about â€” playing tough basketball, winning games with toughness. We're fortunate to get out of the gym with a win. It's good when you see guys committed to the team and just leaving it on the floor, not having a good shooting night and not letting it affect the other end of the floor.â€
HOME NO MORE
The novelty of Oklahoma City serving as the New Orleans Hornets' temporary home from 2005-07 seems to have all but disappeared. Crowd reaction during pre-game introductions drew only polite applause for Chris Paul and David West.
Monday would have qualified as one of the most lethargic crowds in Thunder history, but the eighth sellout (18,203) gathering of the season finally came to life with 4:17 left in the third quarter when Jeff Green sprinted down court and blocked Paul's wide-open layup attempt.
â€œI think that changed the game,â€ Brooks said. â€œI thought it was huge. We have great crowds here. They bring it every night.â€
The Thunder outrebounded the Hornets 56-36. â€¦ OKC is now 5-1 following a loss this season. â€¦ After missing two games with back spasms, Thunder center Nenad Krstic returned to the starting lineup and had seven rebounds and three points in 17 minutes. â€¦ Thunder forward Serge Ibaka was the NBA leader in field-goal percentage (.603) thanks to his 7-for-7 effort at Houston on Sunday. He will fall from the top spot after going 0 for 5 against the Hornets. Ibaka did have 11 rebounds and three blocks. â€¦ In the crowd were former Oklahoma football player Marcus Dupree and former Thunder and Hornets player Desmond Mason. â€¦ Both teams combined to shoot 36.1 percent (26 of 72) in the second half. â€¦ Ibaka and Hornets center Didier Ilunga-Mbenga, the only two Congolese players in the NBA, guarded each other.
â€œI saw it about seven times on the way home (while on the team plane). I stopped at that point in the game film and hit â€˜rewind.' That was something else.â€ â€” Brooks on Russell Westbrook's explosive dunk over Houston's Shane Battier on Sunday