In the Thunder's 101-87 victory at Utah last Friday, All-Star nominees Paul Millsap (4 for 15) and Al Jefferson (9 for 18) combined to shoot 39.4 percent from the field.
In OKC's 111-85 victory at home against the Jazz on Tuesday night, Millsap (4 for 9) and Jefferson (7 for 19) missed their first seven shots and combined to shoot 39.3 percent, providing further proof the Thunder has one of the league's premier defensive frontcourts in Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins, Nick Collison and Nazr Mohammed.
“I have a lot of confidence in all of our bigs being able to contain our opponent,” OKC coach Scott Brooks said. “They really do a good job of competing and staying in plays. The biggest compliment you can give an athlete is his consistency, and those guys bring it every day. They don't get a lot of the credit. They don't get the limelight … but they do it every night. They're so consistent. We love what they're about. If not for them, we wouldn't be in our position.”
Mohammed said: “I think we're pretty good. That's for other people to say if we're the best in the league or not. We don't really think about that. Perk, he takes a lot of pride in his defense. That's a great compliment, but we're not going to let it get to our heads.”
Ibaka had six blocked shots Tuesday, giving him 18 in the last three games.
Tuesday began another busy stretch in the Thunder's schedule with seven games in 10 days, although six of those games are at home.
OKC played five games in the first seven days of the season and went 5-0. The Thunder also went 5-0 in a span of six days, which included its lone back-to-back-to-back of the season.
OKC has the league's best record at 22-6, and Mohammed said he not surprised how well the team has held up through the grueling stretches.
“No, not at all,” Mohammed said. “I don't want to sound arrogant or cocky, but I'm not surprised because I have a lot of confidence in my teammates. Those guys do a great job of taking care of their bodies. We're a deep team. We play 10 guys, which is kind of unheard of. We're a team that plays 10 guys almost every night when we have (injured starting guard) Thabo (Sefolosha). We're where we need to be, but we definitely need to get better at rebounding and taking care of the ball.”
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