Thunder on fire at free-throw line
There is no better free-throw shooting team in the NBA than the Thunder right now. Or ever, for that matter.
Heading into today's 8:30 p.m. contest against Portland inside Oklahoma City Arena, the Thunder is shooting 87.3 percent from the free-throw line, which easily leads the league.
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Team free-throw leaders
1. Boston (1989-90) .832
2. Dallas (2002-03) .829
3. Boston (1990-91) .824
3. Toronto (2008-09) .824
5. Milwaukee (1988-89) .821
5. K.C.-Omaha (1974-75) .821
1. Thunder .873
2. Houston .835
3. Denver .822
4. Charlotte .814
5. LA Lakers .812
That is a monumental 4.1 percent higher than the NBA season record of 83.2 percent by the Boston Celtics in 1989-90.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks said it is unrealistic to expect his team to stay at such a lofty percentage, but he does expect a level of excellence to continue.
Brooks has set a standard of at least 80 percent for his team. The Thunder finished second in free-throw shooting last season at 80.5 percent.
â€œThat is the personality of our offense,â€ Brooks said. â€œWe want to get to the rim, attack the basket and get to the free-throw line. It's a great asset to have.â€
Not only is the Thunder's charity stripe prowess an asset, it's a weapon, particularly late in contests when an opponent fouls to stop the clock while playing catch-up.
â€œFree throws put pressure on everybody, especially when you start to make them,â€ small forward Kevin Durant said. â€œAgainst us, you've got to play a little different, knowing that if you foul us we will go to the line and make them, no matter who's at the line â€“ Russ (Westbrook), Jeff (Green), Thabo (Sefolosha), me, Nenad (Krstic) â€“ we're going to make them. We've got faith in anybody.â€
So far, the Thunder is living large at the line, where they are outscoring teams by an average of 11.1 points per game and their opponents are shooting just 72.9 percent.
â€œOur free-throw defense is pretty good, too,â€ said a smiling Brooks.
In Durant (.914) and Westbrook (.905), the Thunder not only has two of the league's premier free-throw shooters but also two nightmarish defensive assignments to contain.
â€œWe have some aggressive players who should be able to get the line,â€ Brooks said. â€œIn order to stop them, you have to foul. It's a very important part of our offense.â€
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