Thunder Wants Bounce Back Mentality

Just like developing its identity each season, the Thunder has to recommit to each aspect of the game that has made the team special over the years.

After Friday night’s 100-81 road loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Thunder hit the practice floor at the INTEGRIS Health Thunder Development Center on Saturday with one objective in mind – to be prepared to win its next game. On Sunday in the Thunder’s home opener, Head Coach Scott Brooks’ team will host the Phoenix Suns, and look to bounce back from its disappointing loss in Minneapolis. Over the past two seasons the Thunder is 32-7 in games following a loss, including 17-4 last year, but that unwavering mentality has to be re-established each season.

“That’s something that we take pride in,” Brooks said. “Knowing our guys, that’s who they are and that’s their DNA. They’re very competitive. We take pride in coming back after a bad performance and play better the next night. Tomorrow is going to give us a great opportunity to start off on our home court in front of our fans with an opportunity to bounce back.”

In the practice session, the Thunder attempted to get players in an offensive flow to make sure everyone feels good about their shot in the buildup to Sunday evening. Thus far the Thunder has shot just 62-for-164 (.378) from the field and 13-for-50 (0.260) from the three-point line, despite getting open looks.

Brooks’ experienced Thunder squad knows that throughout the year there will be a few games where open shots just don’t fall, but each player is sticking to their normal habits and routines to try and knock down a few extra shots the next game.

“Today was just a day to focus on the next game and get a lot of shots up,” Brooks said. “The game tells you what you need to work on.”

“We got a lot of shots up and got guys in rhythm,” second-year forward Perry Jones said. “It was a good workout.”

Working through entire offensive possessions by moving the basketball, playing unselfishly and screening are core tenets of the Thunder’s half-court offensive philosophy. Those elements have been there in spurts thus far, but the team wants to show it can live by those offensive habits for a full 48 minutes. Creating easier looks through cutting, spacing and screening as opposed to one-on-one attacking will pierce holes in the defense, resulting in even better looks at the rim.

“They just have to continue to stick with it and we have to continue to work on our offense to get these guys good shots,” Brooks explained. “You have to continue to run it with good execution and good energy to get those shots.”

By getting straight to work on Saturday afternoon, the Thunder took a lesson from, but didn’t linger on Friday night’s loss. With 82 games in the NBA schedule, there is no time to dwell, especially with another tough opponent on the docket. The only way this Thunder club can go is forward, and that’s the mentality it took on Saturday, with the hope that it pays dividends on Sunday.

“We had a tough loss, but it’s a long season,” Jones said. “The game is behind us and we can’t go back to it. We have to come out the next game with a lot of energy and a lot of force.”