Two off days couldn't have come at a worse time for the Thunder.
The team walked out of Washington on Wednesday night with an embarrassing 105-102 loss to the league-worst Wizards, and then had Thursday and Friday to continue to steam over how a listless performance resulted in the stunning end to a season-long seven-game winning streak.
Or was the two-day hiatus a good thing?
The Thunder used Thursday as a travel day and did not practice but returned to the practice floor Friday in preparation for Saturday's game at New Jersey. It's possible that a 48-hour retreat is just what the Thunder needed to refocus.
Following the humbling loss to Washington, it again became evident to Thunder players that they can't just show up expecting to win. And the past two days perhaps helped that reality sink in as the Thunder gets set to square off with the 4-11 Nets.
“We're going to get everybody's best effort,” said forward Kevin Durant. “We got to keep working. We can lose any given night. We got to put this past us and be ready for New Jersey.”
DURANT TALKS TEAM USA
Durant and teammate Russell Westbrook recently were selected as two of 20 finalists for the 2012 U.S. Olympic men's basketball team. Two summers ago, both helped lead the USA to its first gold medal in the FIBA World Championship since 1994, and both have a good chance to make the final 12-man roster when it is announced later this year.
Durant already is looking forward to it.
“I'm excited, man,” Durant said. “It's a great feeling. It's a privilege to have the opportunity to represent my country. Hopefully, I get picked for the team. That's something I always thought about as a youngster is representing my country in the Olympics. So hopefully my name is called.”
Durant was then asked what it would be like to face teammate Serge Ibaka, who is expected to compete for Spain in London after being granted Spanish citizenship.
“Serge talks a lot of trash about Spain,” Durant said. “So hopefully we get to play those guys. It'll be fun playing against my teammate, though. He's worked so hard to be a part of that great national team over there and hopefully I get a chance to do the same.”
CONCERNED WITH CHARGES
Against the Wizards, the Thunder committed seven offensive fouls, with five players committing at least one.
Durant had two costly charges in the fourth quarter, and Ibaka was whistled for two offensive fouls as well. At the start of the season, Westbrook was the main culprit, having been whistled for eight charges in the first five games. But he has since played with better pace and cut down on his charges.
Now, it has become a team epidemic at times, and Thunder coach Scott Brooks says it needs to be remedied.
“We just had too many,” Brooks said. “Anytime you have a second defender in front of you, you got to pass the ball. It's simple basketball. We all learned that at an early age. But we have to watch film and figure it out and do a much better job Saturday night.”
Durant on losing to the league-worst Washington Wizards — “It's not the end of the world. We lost to a hungrier team than us. It hurts. Because we want to win every game, and, especially me, I wanted to win back at home. But you got to look past it.”
Of New Jersey's first 15 games, 10 have been played on the road. The Nets are 1-4 at home. … Nets guard MarShon Brooks is second among rookies in scoring at 15.1 points per game. … Former Midwest City High star Shelden Williams is averaging 4.7 points and 4.7 rebounds in 19.1 minutes a night for New Jersey. … With the Thunder playing without Durant at New Jersey last year, Westbrook scored 38 points with 15 rebounds, nine assists and three steals to lead the Thunder to a 123-120 triple overtime win. … The Nets have allowed 100.6 points per game this season, the third most before Friday's games. New Jersey's minus-8.20 scoring differential ranked fifth-to-last among the league's 30 teams before Friday's games…The Nets lead the league in 3-point attempts at 26 per game.
After Saturday's game at New Jersey, the Thunder will return to Oklahoma City to begin a two-game homestand. The Thunder plays the Detroit Pistons at 7 p.m. Monday and the New Orleans Hornets at 7 p.m. Wednesday.