Other than a poor rebounding outing, coach Scott Brooks was encouraged after watching film of a preseason opening loss at Memphis. The Thunder's top eight rotation players outscored the Grizzlies when they were on the court.
“We did a lot of good things,” Brooks said. “We helped each other (by rotating defensively) and challenged shots. Sometimes you watch the game on tape and say, ‘It wasn't as good as I thought.' But it was. The guys did a good job zoning in on things we've taught them the last 10 days.”
HIT THE BOARDS
The biggest negative in the preseason opener was Memphis grabbed 11 offensive boards to outrebound the Thunder, 40-30. Brooks emphasized rebounding with box-out drills during a two-hour practice Thursday.
“All five guys have to rebound,” Brooks said. “For us to be successful on the defensive end, we have to finish with a defensive rebound... I'm a big drill guy. If you're struggling in one area you have to put guys in position to help them.
“We're doing a pretty good job with our half-court set (defensively). We just have to really focus on reward yourself for all that effort you put in during that 24-second shot clock to finish it up with a rebound.”
MORE MINUTES FOR SERGE
Rookie Serge Ibaka played well in the open practice Monday night at Midwest City High School and was productive (four points, two rebounds) in limited playing time (four minutes) in the preseason opener. Brooks said Ibaka will play more Saturday at New Orleans.
“Serge is getting better every day,” Brooks said. “The guy is a worker. He's focused on improving his strength after practice. He works hard before practice and plays with a lot of energy.”
All rookies learn tough lessons. It's even more of a challenge for rookie shooting guards such as James Harden. On any given night, you could be facing Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade or LeBron James.
“The best guys in the NBA are mostly shooting guards,” Harden said. “I have to be prepared every single night. I don't think you can prepare for them. You just go in, try to contain them and rely on your help defense. I just need to learn and compete as hard as possible.”
Forward Nick Collison, sidelined by a severely sprained ankle suffered before camp began, participated in light drills. He is doubtful for Saturday's game in New Orleans. ... Thabo Sefolosha (neck and back) didn't practice again Thursday and is listed day-to-day. ... Veteran backup point guard Kevin Ollie (quad) returned to practice.