Talk about a tone-setter.
Somewhere in the Oklahoma City Thunder's film room should be a special spot for Game 1 of the 2010-11 NBA season, a place so prominent it sits on display like a trophy piece. Because what transpired in the final 12 minutes of the team's 106-95 season-opening victory over Chicago could very well serve as the definitive blueprint for this club's success this year.
And it started with one simple edict.
Just before the start of the fourth quarter, Scott Brooks huddled his team around and commanded it to do something it couldn't do all night. The Thunder coach ordered three straight defensive stops.
Mind you, the Bulls spent the first three quarters shooting 50 percent while bullying the Thunder on the offensive glass and watching their star point guard deliver a superb performance that the Thunder couldn't seem to counter if the game stretched eight more quarters. But when the horn sounded for the start of the final period, the Thunder's defense came alive.
One by one, Thunder players pitched in.
Serge Ibaka provided a pivotal block on a Derrick Rose layup attempt that sent a message to the Bulls point guard that the lane would finally be shut off. Minutes later, Thabo Sefolosha did the same, stuffing Rose's one-man fastbreak and preserving a precious two-point lead.
Then, as Brooks said, the effort became contagious.
Sefolosha swatted another layup, this time by Bulls forward Luol Deng. The ball bounced off Deng's behind and landed out of bounds to give possession to the Thunder. Kevin Durant drilled a 17-footer at the other end to extend the lead to four. Ibaka later rejected Rose again, leading to a three-on-one fastbreak dunk by Russell Westbrook off a pretty assist from Sefolosha.
Thunder-Bulls box score