OKC vs. BKN Preview – Bouncing Back at Home

After a loss, the Thunder has an itch. In the film room, at shoot-around and in the locker room, Head Coach Scott Brooks’ team uses every ounce of energy to learn from prior games and get better, all while counting down the minutes until it can get back into a game setting to play its next opponent.

After a tough fourth quarter and eventual 98-94 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night, the Thunder gets a chance to get back on the court at Chesapeake Energy Arena to get a nice bounce-back win against the Brooklyn Nets. So far this season the Thunder is 4-1 after losses, continually improving on its league-best 35-8 mark in games after a loss dating back to the start of the 2011-12 season. Team leaders like Kevin Durant ensure that the entire squad is focused and hungry after losses, using that energy in positive, productive ways.

“Guys take it to heart when we lose,” Durant said. “The best part about our group is we want to learn so quickly from our mistakes. That’s why we’ve been so good after our losses.”

The matchup tonight in the Nets is a challenge the Thunder accepts and takes very seriously, regardless of the two team’s records. Brooklyn may come into tonight’s contest struggling a bit with a 10-21 mark compared to the Thunder’s 25-6 report card, but the Nets also feature a roster with a combined 36 All-Star appearances. With veterans like Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Brook Lopez, Andrei Kirilenko and Jason Terry in the opposing huddle, the Thunder understands it is facing a group of players who know how to win.

“In this league, teams never play against another team’s record,” Durant said. “That’s not how you approach the game.”

Tonight’s game will be particularly interesting as a case study into how teams approach playing the Thunder. Typically teams try to advance the ball quickly against Brooks’ club in order to avoid trying to execute against the Thunder’s long, athletic and active half-court defense. The Nets, however, typically play at one of the slower paces in the league.

Regardless of what tempo Brooklyn tries to play at, Thunder guards Reggie Jackson and Thabo Sefolosha understand that if they contain Williams, Johnson and Terry along the perimeter, it gives their team a good chance of getting defensive stops.

“They have bigger guards but they can still go small,” Sefolosha said. “They try to increase the speed a little bit and push the ball. For us it doesn’t change much. We just have to play our game.”

“For myself and the rest of us, it’s just focusing on the defensive assignment we have at the time,” Sefolosha said.

In the Notes:

- The Thunder went 1-1 against the Nets last season, and overall is 7-2 against Brooklyn.

- The Thunder is 4-1 this season and 35-8 since the start of the 2011-12 season in games immediately after a loss, called “bounce-back” games.

- Kevin Durant has grabbed at least 12 rebounds in each of the past three games, bumping his season average up to 8.5 boards per game.

Broadcast Info:

7:00 p.m. CT. TV – Fox Sports Oklahoma and NBA TV, Radio – 98.1 FM The Sports Animal, Thunder Radio Network