Those who portrayed OKC as "desperate" in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals might want to cease and desist.
Turns out those associated with the Thunder aren't particularly fond of the word.
"Respectfully, no. 'Desperate' is not a good word to use," veteran reserve guard Derek Fisher said, not smiling. "We weren't desperate to win on our home court because we're capable of doing it. You don't have to be desperate to do something that you're more than capable of doing.
"For us, it was a matter of being better than we were the first two games. It wasn't about being desperate to be better. Just be better. We found a way to do that (Thursday) night."
Best pay heed, because every word that comes out of Fisher's mouth this time of year is some pretty sage stuff.
Inscribe what he says on two stone tablets and carry them down from the mount, for Fisher now stands No. 3 on the NBA list for career playoff appearances with 221. If this 37-year-old vet says something is so, by God, then something is so.
When informed Fisher didn't approve of "desperate" to describe the Thunder's circumstances on Thursday night, 23-year-old Kevin Durant smiled and said: "Fish has been through so many of these games, you're better off listening to him than listening to me."
Had OKC lost Game 3, it would have been one game away from elimination.
"We knew what was at stake, but we weren't desperate or anything like that," Durant said.
Desperate times called for desperate measures. Thunder coach Scott Brooks decided to have Thabo Sefolosha defend Tony Parker and Serge Ibaka occasionally guarded Manu Ginobili. Were these signs of desperation (or some other word)?
Whatever it was, it worked, because OKC throttled the Spurs 102-82 at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Thursday and will try to even the series at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Game 4 at The Peake.
Not to sic Merriam-Webster on the masses, but "desperate" does have many definitions — including reckless or dangerous because of despair or urgency; having an urgent need or desire; leaving little or no hope; very serious or dangerous; extremely bad; intolerable or shocking; extreme or excessive.
Even Fisher would have to admit these definitions seem to fit when you're down 2-0 against a team riding a 20-game winning streak that hadn't lost since April 11.
Perhaps it's more of the implication or tone in which "desperate" is being presented.
"To me, 'desperation' (implies) you're hoping that you win," Brooks said.
Playing "desperate" doesn't necessarily have to be an insult, but in no way, shape or form does Fisher want his team portrayed as a bunch of desperadoes.
Scowling Thunder center Kendrick Perkins didn't appear to be angry at the use of "desperate," which was a relief to those standing in his path after Friday's practice.
"I thought we just played hard," Perkins said. "We were at home, and we had a lot of support from the fans. We just played well. I thought our backs were against the wall. We've never been down really in the playoffs, so I think it's a good thing for us. It makes you lock in more and be focused. Kind of brings you down so you start doing the little things. That's when you come together even more."
Players and coaches seem to prefer the word "urgency" over "desperation."
"We played with urgency more so than desperation," Brooks said.
The tricky thing about desperation is this: Only a team that truly is in desperation can properly feed off it. The Spurs weren't desperate Thursday and the Thunder was.
"Let's be realistic here," TNT analyst Charles Barkley said in Thursday night's postgame show. "These guys (OKC players) played with Superman energy because they were down two-zip. There was no way for the Spurs to put themselves in that situation. … This was a sense of desperation by OKC. Let's give them credit."
Fellow analyst Kenny Smith added: "You can't mimic the sense of desperation when you're up 2-0. You can't mimic what they have. You know how you're sitting at home and everyone goes, 'What would you do if you were hanging on a ledge?' They're hanging on a ledge, Oklahoma City. You can't re-create and be hanging on a ledge with them."
What say you, coach Brooks?
"I don't necessarily totally buy that, but I understand there's definitely a hole when you're down 0-2," Brooks said. "You have to come out with urgency. With urgency, right from the start, you're not waiting for the game to come to you. You're going to attack the game. You're going to dictate the defense and the offense, and we did a better job of that."
Perhaps the best syntax came from Sefolosha when was asked if his team felt desperate in Game 3.
"I wouldn't say desperate," Sefolosha said, "but definitely desperate to come out and play better."
Leave it to the Swiss to decipher proper English.
One final, desperate thought: Doesn't Game 4 qualify as being even more desperate for OKC?
Think about it.
*Had the Thunder lost Game 3, it would have been one game away from elimination, but at least would get to play Game 4 at home.
*If the Thunder loses Game 4, it will be one game away from elimination and headed back to San Antonio for Game 5 on Monday.
Ergo, Game 4 qualifies as more urgent (desperate) for OKC.
Based on how the Thunder performed in Game 3, the more urgent (desperate), the better.