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.
He remained in the game and missed his first four shots from the field and three of his first four free throws. Harden converted his final seven free throws to finish 11 for 14 and went 1 for 7 from the field. He did have a team-high seven assists.
In the six previous games, Harden had averaged 21.8 points, shot 59.7 percent from the field and 51.4 percent from 3-point range.
In a flurry of moves last Thursday, Portland fired coach Nate McMillan, acquired guard Jonny Flynn, center Hasheem Thabeet and a second-round pick from Houston in exchange for center Marcus Camby and also acquired center Mehmet Okur, forward Shawne Williams and a conditional 2012 first-round pick (top 3 protected) from the New Jersey Nets in exchange for forward Gerald Wallace.
In addition to naming assistant Canales interim head coach, the Blazers also waived Greg Oden and Chris Johnson.
Flynn did not play Sunday and Thabeet was not with the team.
Thunder reserve guard Daequan Cook, who missed Friday night's loss against San Antonio with a sore right shoulder, played 20 minutes and had five points and four rebounds. … The Thunder allowed Portland just 15 points in the first quarter, three points off the season-low for an opponent his season. … The Blazers shot 26.1 percent (6 for 23) in the first period, 64.7 percent (11 for 17) in the second quarter and trailed 57-42 at halftime.
Thunder reserve forward Nick Collison on why Portland was able to win 100-89 at Chicago one day after revamping its roster: "Historically in the league, as soon as teams make a coaching change or a trade, that team plays well. They get a boost of energy, for whatever reason, so we know we have to be ready to play. They still have talented guys. They've got an All-Star in (forward LaMarcus) Aldridge. (Reserve guard Jamal) Crawford can get it going. They're definitely capable of playing well."