OKC vs. CHA Preview – Follow Up a Win with Great Effort

The Thunder got back to its winning ways on Friday night. The next task is to follow it up with a great effort on Sunday.

With the Charlotte Bobcats coming to town, the Thunder faces off against a team it had a tough battle with in late December when Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club eked out a road victory in Charlotte. It was a defensive battle, something the Thunder has been familiar with throughout this season, and it is likely that Sunday’s contest will be the same.

“They’re one of the best defensive teams in the game,” Brooks said. “They do a great job of getting back and not allowing any transition points. Offensively, they don’t turn the ball over at all.”

Led by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the Thunder slammed the door on the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night by getting big defensive stops and executing with precision on the offensive end. In order to beat a feisty Charlotte squad who is in the midst of the battle for playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference, the Thunder will have to do both at a high level. Preventing the Bobcats from getting an early offensive rhythm while also valuing the ball in its own offensive sets will be paramount to success.

“They’re a good team,” Westbrook said. “They’ve won their last four of their five games. They’re playing hard, in the playoff hunt trying to get home court. They have a lot of good young guys who can play.”

Another key for the Thunder on Sunday will be for every man who sees game time to step up and contribute. On Friday the team saw Perry Jones come through with nice activity, energy and hustle in the closing minutes on defense, in addition to a spark from Hasheem Thabeet, who played 17 minutes after going a long stretch without seeing any minutes. The ability for every Thunder player to stay ready at all times is not taken for granted in the slightest by Brooks, who can call upon any man on the roster whenever the situation calls for it.

“I’m proud of (Thabeet),” Brooks said. “He hasn’t played a lot of minutes, but he’s kept himself in shape working with coach Mark Bryant. He did a lot of wind sprints and machine work to stay in shape. That opportunity that he got last night, I’m glad that he put himself in a position to have success by all the work he’s done.”

In the Notes:

- The Thunder is 1-0 against the Bobcats this season, and overall is 8-2 against Charlotte in the regular season.

- The Thunder is 15-6 in games decided by six points or less so far this season.

- The Thunder is 12-4 when Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook both score 20-or-more points.

Broadcast Info:

6:00 p.m. CT. TV – Fox Sports Oklahoma; Radio – 98.1 FM The Sports Animal, Thunder Radio Network