Â Â Â Â The Thunder is just 2-7 all-time against Houston, which makes its second and final visit to the Oklahoma City Arena Wednesday night. The Thunder's only wins against the Rockets have come at home, where OKC won by 18 last season and 17 earlier this year. On the road, the Thunder has lost four straight against the Rockets and have dropped 11 straight dating back to 2005 when the franchise was located in Seattle.
â€œThey've always found ways to win the close games,â€ said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. â€œOne of the players would step up and make a big shot, (Aaron) Brooks or (Shane) Battier. Last game, it was Battier making big plays throughout the game.â€
GETTING MORE BALANCED SCORING
With so much attention on Kevin Durant as the reigning scoring champ, the Thunder has flown under the radar as one the better balanced scoring teams in the NBA.
Three players this season are averaging 10 points or more, with Durant and Russell Westbrook both averaging more than 23. Forward Jeff Green is averaging a career-high 17.4 points. Last season, Durant accounted for just less than 30 percent of the team's scoring. This season, Durant's scoring makes up about 26 percent.
â€œThat's what makes teams good,â€ Brooks said. â€œYou can't have a one- or two-man team. All the successful, elite teams in this league, they have good players. They don't just have two. They have a team full of good players. And we're working our way and growing into a good team.â€
TEAM CHEMISTRY IN GOOD SHAPE
Before and after games, the Thunder locker room has become a cross between a comedy and fashion show, with players cracking on everything from each other's hairstyle to their wardrobes.
The scenes tell the story of how good the Thunder's chemistry is.
â€œIt has to take place over time,â€ Brooks said. â€œAnd it has, not just between (Durant and Westbrook) but our team. Everybody feels comfortable with each other, and guys do a great job of accepting their roles.â€
PASSION EVIDENT AT PRACTICE
Tuesday's practice wasn't an uncharacteristically long session. But it was spirited.
â€œIt was a little chippy today, which is good,â€ Brooks said. â€œOur guys normally are not like that but I like to see that. I like to see the toughness that needs to be displayed in order to win in this league. And they had it today.â€
After nursing a bruised left rib over the past few days, rookie center Cole Aldrich returned to practice Tuesday and is available for Wednesday night's game. â€¦ Nenad Krstic (back) has been ruled out against the Rockets. Serge Ibaka will again start in his place. â€¦ Houston played at home against Sacramento on Tuesday night. The Rockets are 2-4 in the second night of back-to-backs. â€¦ The Thunder is 5-2 on Wednesdays.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks on assistant coach Mark Bryant injuring centers Cole Aldrich and Byron Mullens in recent practices â€” â€œMark's tough. Mark played, what, 15, 16 years? And he was a bruiser. So you are what you are.â€