SCOTT BROOKS PLEASED WITH OFFENSIVE IMPROVEMENT
Entering Wednesday's game at Houston, the Thunder had compiled a 19-4 record when it scores at least 100 points.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks, though, said that record hasn't swayed him into setting triple digits as a benchmark for points scored.
“I don't have a set number,” Brooks said before Oklahoma City's 118-112 win over the Rockets. “It's almost just the flow of the game. We have some unique offensive players that can get to the basket. And when they're aggressive, good things happen.
“I just like to see the ball move and guys be aggressive and not hesitate when they have open shots. That's our focus. But we've definitely improved our offense…You're always tinkering and getting better. Individually, guys have gotten better. We're getting to the free throw line more. But we still hang our hats on defense.”
BATTIER ON DURANT
Rockets forward Shane Battier has found a way to do what most players haven't been able to do against the Thunder — effectively defend Kevin Durant.
“He's at the upper echelon in the league,” Brooks said. “You can tell he takes pride on that end of the floor. He always has a hand up, right in his face. You always know as an offensive player he's going to be there…He's programmed to get a stop every time down court.”
Battier classified Durant as “right up there” with Kobe Bryant and LeBron James as the one of the NBA's best scorers.
“It's tough to split hairs at the top of that list,” Battier said. “But his improvement has been really impressive. His understanding for a young guy is really impressive. And every time you play against him, he shows you something new.”
When a reporter suggested Durant doesn't have a signature move, Battier disagreed.
“His signature move is that he never seems to get tired of shooting the basketball,” Battier said. “So you just have to be really vigilant against him. You always have to keep your concentration. If you slack off for a second and lose focus, he's going to burn you. He's a tough cover.”
FALLING LIKE FLIES
Since Christmas, six of the Thunder's nine opponents were missing key contributors.
Denver was without Carmelo Anthony on Dec. 25, New Jersey guard Anthony Morrow was injured on Dec. 29, Atlanta played without Marvin Williams on Dec. 31, Memphis was without O.J. Mayo on Jan. 4, Dallas didn't have Dirk Nowitzki and Caron Butler on Jan. 6 and Houston had its leading scorer, Kevin Martin, in street clothes Wednesday.
Brooks, though, said he doesn't consider the trend a streak of good fortune.
“I don't look at it either way,” Brooks said. “Whoever we play, we play. It all works itself out. If you relax and say, ‘This guy's not playing, we can take it easy,' that's not the case.”
The Thunder was 4-1 in the five games before Wednesday's at Houston. The lone loss was at Memphis.
Thunder guard James Harden had his left fingers examined multiple times by the team's medical staff before to the game. The severity of the potential ailment is unclear, and it's unknown how or when Harden might have sustained an injury. Harden played a shade over 21 minutes Wednesday, scoring eight points but missing all three of his shot attempts. …Jeff Green was knocked to the floor and had to be taken out of the game with 10:19 left in the third quarter when Rockets forward Luis Scola swung his arms into Green's head. Green missed 8 minutes, 3 seconds before returning late in the third quarter. …The Thunder had seven turnovers in the first half but finished with just 13…Cole Aldrich, currently on assignment with the Tulsa 66ers, scored 19 points with seven blocked shots, both season-highs, Wednesday against Dakota.