Only 10 games will be left on the Thunder's regular season schedule following Sunday's matchup with Portland. Oklahoma City enters the game having won 11 of its past 13, with its last two losses coming by a combined eight points.
“I feel like we're playing great basketball right now,” said point guard Eric Maynor. “We just got to keep it up.”
The chief goal now for the Thunder is to now tighten up things before postseason play.
The Thunder's playoff seeding has essentially been set. With a four-game lead over Denver, it would take a near choke job for the Thunder to fall out of the fourth seed, even with two games remaining against the Nuggets.
At this point, the Thunder is more focused on enhancing chemistry with the three players it acquired at the trading deadline, Kendrick Perkins, Nazr Mohammed and Nate Robinson. The Thunder is 11-4 since the two trades but 11-2 in games in which the new additions have played and 5-1 with Perkins as a starter.
“We're definitely starting to figure out one another,” said Mohammed. “But we still got a ways to go.
“We're still trying to improve our defense. We're definitely trying to improve our half-court execution because that's what playoff basketball is about. The open court, fast break points, we're going to get those. But we're trying to improve in other areas.”
PERKINS FOCUSED ON IMPROVING FREE THROWS
After starting his Thunder career 5-for-5 from the foul line, Perkins, a career 60-percent free throw shooter, has gone 2-for-11 from the stripe. Perkins missed five of six foul shots Friday against Minnesota, including one air-ball on an attempt in the third quarter.
“It's more in your head. You see a few go down and you get comfortable,” Perkins said. “I missed one (early against the Wolves) and I was messed up ever since then. It happens.
“One thing about me is I'm not scared to work on my flaws or things of that nature because I know we all have them. But I don't run for them … I can take the heat. Guys are joking with me about them. I just bounce back and keep working on it.”
THUNDER RECORDS SEASON HIGH IN STEALS
In Friday's win over the Wolves, the Thunder registered a season-high 16 steals. The record number moved Oklahoma City ahead of Washington for fifth in the league at eights steals per game.
“That's one of our strengths defensively,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “We have some active wing defenders that can play passing lanes. When we have a lot of activity on the ball, it allows our wings to be more aggressive … But we don't look for steals. We let our defense get the steals. And when we do, we have to get out and run in transition.”
SHOULD COLLISON SCORE MORE?
Each day Perkins seems to learn something new about his teammates. His latest revelation is reserve forward Nick Collison has some scoring ability. Collison helped cement that thought in Perkins' mind by scoring 13 points on 6-for-7 shooting against the Wolves.
“I think sometimes he gets a little passive and gets a little bit caught up into his role, which is good,” Perkins said. “But he can put the ball in the basket. He can make plays. And going into the playoffs, I think we're going to need everybody. Every night in the playoffs, it's a certain guy that wins a game for you, they have a big night. So whether it's the first or the 10th man, everybody got to be ready.”
NBA ON ESPN RV TOUR RETURNS TO OKC
The NBA on ESPN RV once again will be parked outside the main entrance of the Oklahoma City Arena during ESPN's telecast of Sunday's Thunder-Blazers game.
The RV will be open for fans to tour before the game. Games and giveaways will be available.