BROOKS STANDS FIRM
Thunder coach Scott Brooks repeatedly has said he will not sit key players during the closing stretch of the season despite having secured homecourt for the opening round, and he proved it during Friday night's 104-89 victory at home over Denver.
Every OKC starter played at least 21 minutes, and the top 10 players saw at least 12 minutes of action. Brooks said his team will keep the same approach it has the entire season.
"Our guys would not want it any different," Brooks said. "If I cut their minutes or rest them, they will find places to play (around town). I'd rather have them do it in a controlled environment, with three good officials and under our watch.
"There are some pickup games I've heard are pretty good in the city, (at) some YMCA. Our guys will play. They're gym rats. They love to play. Our off-days are on-days. I don't know if we've ever had an off-day where 10 guys did not show up. To do weights, basketball work, (get) treatments on their bodies.
"They do not want to sit, and I don't want that. We're all programmed to be competitive every game. We can't pick and choose which games we're going to be competitive."
The Thunder remains one game behind Dallas for the No. 3 playoff seed in the Western Conference. The Mavericks won at home against the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday.
OKC did pull within two games of the No. 2-seeded Los Angeles Lakers, who lost at Portland.
The Thunder plays at the Lakers on Sunday and is 0-3 inside Staples Center this season against the two LA teams.
The Thunder started the last two games shooting a combined 0 for 14 from the field – 0 for 8 against the Clippers on Wednesday night and 0 for 6 against Denver.
Fans inside Oklahoma City Arena don't sit until the Thunder scores it first points. They had to wait until the 9:38 mark against the Clippers and stood until 7:53 remained in the quarter against the Nuggets.
The Thunder started the second half 1 for 7 against Denver, with the lone conversion coming on a goaltending call.
The Thunder contained a nemesis in Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson, who came in averaging 19.3 points against OKC this season.
Lawson had five points, six assists and six turnovers in 30 minutes Friday and attempted just four shots.
"He's as quick as any point guard in the league going basket to basket," Brooks said of Lawson. "He catches the outlet, and in two or three seconds he's at the other rim. And he's strong. He's a powerful little guy that can get to the rim and finish around the rim."
The Thunder is now 30-10 at home, which is the third-best home record in the Western Conference behind San Antonio (35-5) and Denver (31-8). … Friday was 34th sellout (18,203). Milwaukee on Wednesday is the last home game of the regular season. … The Thunder scored 25 points off 19 Denver turnovers, outscored the Nuggets 23-8 on fast-break points and 25-15 on second-chance points. … OKC finished the regular season 14-3 on Fridays. … Thunder is 21-5 when five players score in double figures.
"This team is good. It is different in the playoffs. They're going to bring their A-game." – Kevin Durant on the Nuggets