Thunder coach Scott Brooks sent out a warning shot about the Denver Nuggets during Sunday morning's shootaround.
"Their wings are as fast as any wings in the league," Brooks said of the Nuggets' perimeter players.
During Sunday night's 124-118 overtime loss at Chesapeake Energy Arena, Denver guards Arron Afflalo (27 points), Andre Miller (21) and Ty Lawson (17), plus small forward Corey Brewer (10) repeatedly knifed in for layups and helped the Nuggets amass an astounding 72 points in the paint.
"Brewer runs the floor. Lawson is pushing the ball. They're playing with an incredible pace," Brooks warned. "Lawson is a jet and gets into the paint. He causes so much concern for the opponent."
After the game, his shirt drenched in sweat, Brooks reiterated, "They just play so darn fast."
Thunder rookie guard Reggie Jackson played at Palmer High School in Colorado Springs, but Sunday's game against the Denver Nuggets did not carry any special meaning.
"No offense, but I didn't really grow up a Denver Nuggets fan, so it's not that special to me," said Jackson, who moved several times throughout his life growing up in a military family. "It's just another game."
Jackson instead grew up a fan of the Chicago Bulls and Portland Trail Blazers.
As a die-hard Oakland Raiders fan, Jackson has no affection whatsoever for the Denver Broncos. "No, never," Jackson said.
So no "Tebowing" from Jackson? "Um, no," Jackson said with a smile.
With his father serving in the military, Jackson was born in Italy, grew up bilingual and spoke his first words in Italian. He held his Italian citizenship until 2008. From Italy, Jackson's family moved to England, North Dakota, Florida, Georgia and then Colorado Springs when Jackson was in the sixth grade.
The Thunder is going through some injury problems this season, but they are not nearly as wide-ranging as woes experienced by the Nuggets.
Denver coach George Karl used his 13th different starting lineup on Sunday thanks to injuries to Danilo Gallinari (ankle) and Nene' Hilario (calf).
By comparison, the Thunder has used four lineups this season. Center Kendrick Perkins (knee contusion) was a game-time decision to join the starting lineup.
BACK IN OKC
The New Orleans Hornets, who temporarily called Oklahoma City home for two seasons (2005-07) after Hurricane Katrina, spent three days in the city leading up to Monday's 7 p.m. game against the Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The Hornets arrived early Saturday morning, flying in after their victory at New York which snapped the Knicks' seven-game winning streak.
They had Saturday off and used the Thunder's old practice facility on Sunday.
Karl revisited his thoughts on the Thunder before playing OKC for the first time since last year's first-round playoff series, which the Thunder won 4-1.
"I think the whole Oklahoma City thing is a good story," Karl said. "Their cohesiveness and toughness from last year to this year was definitely increased by a camaraderie that not many teams in the league have. Scotty continues to do a great job of bringing (James) Harden along and bringing younger players along, and their development from good players to stars to superstars is pretty impressive. Someone's had control of that and Scotty Brooks should get a lot of credit for it."
Karl wasn't so congenial after the game, however. Coaches routinely exchange a wave after the game on the sideline. After Sunday's gut-wrenching loss, Karl slowly turned and walked directly to the tunnel without acknowledging Brooks, who waved twice.
Karl on Sunday's 124-118 overtime loss to the Thunder: ""They're one of the best teams in basketball and we took them into overtime. In a lot of ways we won the game, but the scoreboard says we lost it. Somehow, someway, I've got to get my team to realize we won a lot of things."