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Thunder will need to redevelop some chemistry after James Harden-for-Kevin Martin trade

Thabo Sefolosha said: “The chemistry on the court will come. We have 82 games to play, so I'm sure it will come.”
by Berry Tramel Published: October 31, 2012

/articleid/3724219/1/pictures/1872158">Photo - NBA BASKETBALL: Oklahoma City's Kendrick Perkins (5), Serge Ibaka (9, Russell Westbrook (0) and Kevin Durant (35) talk during Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA playoffs at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Thursday, May 31, 2012.  Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
NBA BASKETBALL: Oklahoma City's Kendrick Perkins (5), Serge Ibaka (9, Russell Westbrook (0) and Kevin Durant (35) talk during Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA playoffs at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Thursday, May 31, 2012. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

While the San Antonios and the Lakers realize the regular season exists to merge with new teammates and start peaking when springtime arrives, the Thunder still treats every game like it's San Juan Hill.

That should be enough to get the Thunder the top seed. But then come the playoffs, which very well could be determined by who has integrated its newcomer(s) best. The Lakers with Nash and Howard; the Thunder with Kmart.

On the Thunder side, the starting five remains intact. That's novel in this fluid league.

“That starting five has done a good job over the years,” Scotty Brooks said, talking like it was the Dodger infield of Garvey, Lopes, Cey and Russell.

In reality, the quintet of Durant, Westbrook, Thabo, Ibaka and Perkins has been together since March 2011. That's 20 months. But that's a lifetime in the NBA. Check out the Mavs, if you don't believe it, and the roster overhaul they've endured since winning the '11 NBA title.

“We know we can play,” Thabo said. “I think it's a good thing we get to start the season with the same starting five. And we'll see where it goes from there. Definitely it's a good thing we have some chemistry going. We know each other's game. That's a big plus for us.”

But the plus could have been bigger. The Harden trade is good for OKC's long-term future. Maybe even for OKC's short-term future.

But for now, for this season? The Thunder surrendered the high ground.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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