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Thunder: OKC needs to start games the way it ends — playing good defense

BY JOHN ROHDE, Staff Writer, Published: December 15, 2011

Brooks sees this quest for better defense as mind over matter.

“I just think we have to do a better job of starting the game off with a defensive mindset,” Brooks said. “As the game went along, our competitive juices took over. We need to start the game off better defensively, but we've always finished the game. The third and fourth quarter, you knew teams were going to have trouble scoring on us. We have to have that approach to start the game.”

Any explanation found for the first-half flop?

“Nobody had one in the room,” Brooks said. “I just think we were ‘feeling the game out' too many nights. We have to improve in that area. It's just all mindset.”

Brooks stressed the importance of defense during the postseason, a time when the defensive intensity always is turned up a notch.

Though the Thunder responded with superb defense in the second half of playoff games, the first-half percentages were still too high for Brooks (see chart).

“I think it (the message) definitely hit home,” Brooks said. “You have to defend every night.”

It's possible the Thunder's offense indirectly affected its defense.

“We definitely improved on the offensive end of the floor last season, but did that take a little bit away (from the defensive performance)?” Brooks said. “You're always trying to find a balance. You want to have a good mixture of both. We have to still realize that defense is most important. Our defense allows us to score. We're one of the best teams in the league in scoring off turnovers.”

John Rohde: 475-3099. John Rohde can be heard Monday-Friday from 6-7 p.m. on The Sports Animal Network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1.

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