Rebounding deciding outcomes for OKC
More and more, a direct correlation between how the Oklahoma City Thunder rebounds and whether the team wins is becoming evident.
Going into Wednesday's game at Minnesota, the Thunder had out-rebounded opponents 248-213 in its past five wins. That's a 49.6 to 42.6 average advantage that includes a plus-2.4 differential in offensive rebounds. But in Thunder's past five losses, OKC has been out-rebounded 232 to 181, a negative differential of 10.2 rebounds per game, which includes a minus-4.4 differential in offensive rebounds.
â€œWe have to have a hit-first mentality, and all five guys have to crash the boards,â€ said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. â€œWe can't rely on one or two guys. That's not usually what we do. We usually rebound as a committee. All of our good rebounding games, every body seems to have five to eight. And when we don't have a good night, the guys that usually get seven and eight get three or fourâ€¦Everybody has to chip in and make those plays for us.â€
One of the culprits has been Serge Ibaka, who is averaging 6.5 rebounds this season but has pulled down just 4.2 per game in the past five losses. A part of the problem can be attributed to Ibaka's increased focus on offense. The second-year forward is averaging 2.2 more shots per game this season, many of them being attempted further from the basket.
â€œThere is definitely a concern because we need (rebounding) from him,â€ Brooks said. â€œThat's his strength. If you don't perform to your strengths every night you're going to end up with inconsistent play.
â€œHe can't lose sight of the fact that he stays on the floor when he rebounds and blocks shotsâ€¦He has to refocus on the things that he does well.â€
ALDRICH RETURNS HOME
Rookie center Cole Aldrich returned to his home state of Minnesota for the first time but was inactive against the Wolves on Wednesday night. Nonetheless, Aldrich, a Bloomington native, estimated about 75 family members and even more friends would be in attendance.
â€œIt's just kind of cool to be able to see familiar faces again,â€ Aldrich said.
When told he was a party pooper for deactivating Aldrich, Brooks reminded a reporter that just a few days ago Aldrich was in the D-League.
â€œAnytime you're in the NBA, you have a good life,â€ Brooks said. That doesn't say anything about how we feel about him. It's just part of the rotations right now (that) he's not in. But he works hard and he's going to be a big part of our future.â€
SHOPPING WITH DURANT
Kevin Durant will take an Oklahoma City-area family shopping on Saturday.
Leticia Gomez, Benjamin Perez and their three children will receive $500 worth of groceries at an area Homeland and a $500 gift card for future use.
The trip is the second of four provided to fans by Homeland this season.
Kevin Durant on guard Ricky Rubio â€” â€œThey're going to have fun playing with this guy when he comes to Minnesotaâ€¦His passing ability is one of the best I've ever seen.â€
BY DARNELL MAYBERRY