OKC at LAL Preview – Focus a Thunder Attribute
LOS ANGELES – The Thunder stands at 42-12 with one game remaining before the All-Star Break, but Thursday morning’s shootaround had the same air of intensity and focus as it did before the first game of the season.
With leaders like Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Nick Collison, the Thunder has a core of players who have two typically opposing qualities – youth and experience. At just 25 years old Durant and Westbrook have played in every type of regular season or playoff environment imaginable, giving the team perspective in how it goes about its daily work. As Head Coach Scott Brooks’ squad faces the Los Angeles Lakers tonight, its mentality and drive to be sharp every day is what it leans upon.
“We’re just trying to build habits here and just worrying everything else as it comes along,” Durant said. “We just try not to take any day for granted and just work as hard as we can. I tell the guys all the time, if we play as hard as we can and play to the best of our abilities, we can live with the results.”
The mentality to stay focused regardless of what lay on the horizon has been a staple of the Thunder’s thought process not just in the locker room, but throughout the organization since the team arrived in Oklahoma City. It’s not just Durant, Westbrook and Collison cultivating the personality of the team to be keyed in each night, it has also been the next wave of Thunder players like Serge Ibaka, Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb who have continued to raise the bar for performance.
“It’s been developed over the years,” Brooks said. “What we’re seeing now is the byproduct of all the things that we’ve done over the last five or six years together as a group. We have a good group of guys who are committed to playing consistent basketball.”
As a result, tonight’s matchup in Los Angeles is just as important to the Thunder as the other 81 regular season contests it will have played this year. Despite injury issues and new faces on the Lakers’ roster, the Thunder knows that tonight will be about executing its gameplan on both ends of the floor to its greatest ability. Containing Chris Kaman in the post will be essential, in addition to slowing down Kendall Marshall on the perimeter.
“No matter who we play, it’s just about us and what we’re going to do on both sides of the ball,” Durant explained. “Move the ball on offense, talk, play together and physical on defense, no matter who we’re playing. That’s how we try to approach it.”
In the Notes:
- The Thunder is 1-0 against the Lakers this season, and overall is 8-10 against the Lakers in the regular season.
- The Thunder is 34-5 this year when out-rebounding the opposition, including 12-1 when out-rebounding teams by 10-or-more.
- The Thunder is 22-1 this season when registering more assists than its opponent.
9:30 p.m. CT. TV – TNT; Radio – 98.1 FM The Sports Animal, Thunder Radio Network