SECOND HALF STRUGGLES EMERGEIn three of the past four games, the Thunder has struggled to close out opponents. Oklahoma City lost two of those games and narrowly escaped against Golden State. In three of the last four games, the Thunder has been outscored in the second half by an average margin of 54-41. “I think on the defensive end, we need a lot more focus,” said Collison. “And I think on the offensive end, we need to just continue doing what got us in that position and move the ball. Sometimes we get stagnant on the offensive end when we get leads.” On the year, the Thunder has outscored opponents in the second half on average 51.2 to 46.1 in wins and been outscored 50.3 to 45.4 in losses.
DEFENDING DURANTThe task of trying to defend Durant tonight will fall on the shoulders of Denver swingman Wilson Chandler, considered by many to be an underrated perimeter defender. On Sunday, Chandler helped hold Lakers guard Kobe Bryant to 28 points on 10 of 27 shooting. Bryant scored just four points on 2-for-7 shooting in the decisive fourth quarter. “He’s the same type of player in a sense,” Chandler said of Durant. “He’s going to have the ball in his hands a lot. He’s taller, so he’s tougher to guard when he’s shooting the ball. He can shoot right over you. So I’m just going to try to be physical with him and make him take tough shots.” BY DARNELL MAYBERRY
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