Though the Thunder's defensive performances have been erratic early this season, the team's fourth-quarter effort has been close to constant.
Monday night's shutdown defense in the final quarter of the Thunder's 92-90 win over the Pistons was the latest in a string of solid showings. Oklahoma City held Detroit to 17 points, the fourth time this season the Thunder has held an opponent to 20 or fewer points in the fourth period. The Thunder also limited the Pistons to 7-for-27 shooting with three turnovers.
In its eight games, the Thunder is allowing 22.4 fourth-quarter points on just 35.1 percent shooting while turning opponents over in the final 12 minutes 4.1 times per game.
FOUL SHOOTING FUELING OKC
Yet again, the Thunder ranks at the top of the league in free-throw shooting percentage.
After an 88.1-percent shooting night at the foul line Monday, the Thunder bumped its league-leading average this season to 84.7 percent.
Through Monday's games, the Thunder ranked second in the league in attempts at 27.8 per game. The Los Angeles Lakers, thanks in large part to Dwight Howard, led the league with a 31.6 average.
Serge Ibaka appears to be finding his rhythm in the shot-blocking department.
After registering more than two blocked shots only once in the first four games, Ibaka has recorded at least three in all of the past four contests.
In the past two games, Ibaka has tallied 13 blocked shots to bump his average to 3.63. Oklahoma City had a season-high 12 blocked shots Monday against the Pistons, and led by Ibaka's resurgence, the Thunder led the league in blocked shots with 8.38 per game through Monday.
Brooks on guard Thabo Sefolosha's performance against the Pistons: “I thought Thabo's game won the game. The way he played. He didn't score until he hit those two (late) free throws, which were big and put us up one. But his defense, his toughness, his game-winning plays, his eight rebounds. … Thabo, I thought, won that game just with his sheer determination.”