The Thunder continued an impressive trend Sunday of taking care of the basketball.
It might sound elementary, but it's been one of Oklahoma City's biggest problem areas all year.
Against the Bulls, though, the Thunder finished with just 12 turnovers. Seven of those came in the fourth quarter, when the game was well in hand and no starter for either team needed to play a single second.
“It's something we struggled with early in the year,” said Russell Westbrook. “But in order for us to win in the playoffs, we're going to definitely have to cut that down and we've been doing that.”
The Thunder has been last or second to last in turnovers for much of the season. But since March 1, the Thunder has averaged just 15.1 turnovers, right around the number that Brooks is comfortable with.
“It's always in the back of my mind,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said of the turnovers. “It's important that we continue to take care of the ball and make simple plays. I think it's improving. I'm not going to say we solved that mystery. But it seems like now it's one guy instead of multiple guys turning it over in a game. And it's not the same guy. Every game, they switch. It's almost like they're relay racers. ‘It's your turn to turn it over tonight.'
CHEEKS MISSES HALL
Thunder assistant coach Maurice Cheeks will not be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this season.
Cheeks was a finalist for the second consecutive season.
The class will be officially announced Monday in New Orleans, with the enshrinement ceremony Sept. 7.
When Cheeks retired, he was the NBA's all-time leader in steals and was fifth in assists. He was picked for four All-Star Games, five all-defensive teams and helped his team to three NBA Finals and a world championship.
DURANT RAISES SIX FIGURES FOR CHARITY
In his inaugural “KD35 Ball” on Saturday night that officially launched the Kevin Durant Family Foundation, Durant raised $300,000 for charity.
Several autographed pieces of memorabilia were available in a silent auction, as well as evenings with various Thunder players. A dinner date with James Harden went for $32,000.
“I was just so shocked about the whole deal,” Durant said. “I was just walking in there unsure of how it was going to be with the set-up or anything. My mom was just quietly doing it. When I walked in, that was unbelievable. To raise that much money to go to charity, man, that's just a joy to my heart, especially to do it here in Oklahoma City.”
WESTBROOK WEARS MICROPHONE
The ABC broadcast got Westbrook to wear a microphone during Sunday's game.
And Westbrook said he enjoyed it.
“It was good,” Westbrook said. “I've been miked up a few times. The All-Star game was another time. I'm just having some fun on the mike.
“I honestly don't remember some of the stuff I was saying. But we'll see what it sounds like.”
THIBODEAU IMPRESSED WITH IBAKA
Even before he saw the Thunder blow out his team, Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau had high praise for Oklahoma City's roster. The front-runner to win Coach of the Year for the second straight season said the Thunder is a lot more than Westbrook, Durant and Harden and singled out Serge Ibaka's contributions as being significant.
“Ibaka's very, very impressive,” Thibodeau said. “To me, he's an All-Star caliber player. And when you combine him with (Kendrick) Perkins — to me Perkins is an all-league defender. He can defend the (center) as well as anyone in the league — he makes it difficult on you.”
Ibaka scored nine points with six rebounds and five blocked shots Sunday.
MOHAMMED REPRESENTS UK
The Thunder's Nazr Mohammed was in New Orleans on Saturday night to watch his alma mater, Kentucky, take on Louisville in the Final Four.
He'll miss Monday's championship game as the Thunder host Memphis.
He's outnumbered in the locker room with Cole Aldrich and Nick Collison, who went to Kansas, on the other side.
“We've got a solid team and I think we're going to win the championship,” Mohammed said. “Cole's been talking a little bit, but we already beat them earlier this year, so I told him just to be quiet until they get a win. It's going to be a great game.”
Mohammed said he was pulling into his driveway as the Kansas-Ohio State game was winding down.
How'd he manage the quick trip?
“Time machine,” he said.