Thunder coach Scott Brooks and newly named interim Portland coach Kaleb Canales got to know each other at the summer camp of Tim Grgurich, who has been an NBA assistant with Seattle, Portland, Denver and Dallas.
"He works out guys and develops players as well I've seen," Brooks said of the 34-year-old Canales. "He's just a friendly spirit. He always wants to learn and get better. He's always in the gym, he's always the first coach in the gym, he's last to leave, he's picking everybody's brain. You knew that he would get an opportunity to keep moving up and he has. He's on his way to being a permanent head coach."
Canales joined the Blazers as a video intern in 2004, a similar path to Miami coach Erik Spoelstra, who began as a video coordinator with the Heat.
"Coach Brooks means a lot to me, sitting down at those camps," Canales said of the 46-year-old Brooks. "He's always been so good. He takes out the time, talks to me, give me advice. Obviously the way he and Mr. (Thunder general manager Sam) Presti have led this organization is something to be proud of. I have a special relationship with Coach Brooks. I really admire how he's done it, how he's come up and obviously I can relate to a lot of that. He's done it the hard, old-fashioned way. His teams are so well-prepared and they play hard every single night."
LINE OF DEMARCATION
The Thunder entered the game leading the league in free-throw percentage (. 797), but began Sunday night's game 5 for 12 from the line.
Russell Westbrook started out 0 for 4 and James Harden 1 for 4. OKC finished 18 for 28 (. 643) and for most of the game shot better from 3-point range, where it finished 11 for 18 (. 611).
Shortly after entering the game in the first quarter, Harden injured the index finger on his (left) shooting hand.