OKC vs. NOP Preview – Communicating on D

The band is back together, and it is making everyone in the Thunder locker room feel comfortable.

For just the third time since Christmas Day, the Thunder will have its full starting lineup intact tonight in its matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans. With the re-addition of Kendrick Perkins and Thabo Sefolosha in the starting lineup to go with Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka, the Thunder has continuity, which will help build consistency over the next week before the Playoffs begin. Tonight’s test against the Pelicans is the Thunder’s 79th game of the season, and another important one on the path to continually getting better.

“We’ll just worry about ourselves and lock into thinking that we’re taking this game to get better as a ball club defensively and offensively,” Perkins stated.

“Tonight is another game to work and get better,” Durant added.

One way that the Thunder has excelled lately has been on the defensive end, which should come as no surprise considering the defensive prowess of Sefolosha and Perkins, not to mention that the Thunder’s second unit goes back to its normal routine. When players are used to being with one another on the floor, it helps them develop chemistry which can make the difference between a defensive stop and a wide open shot for an opponent. In recent games, the Thunder’s chemistry has been on full display on the defensive end, as all five men on the floor have been constantly talking to one another throughout defensive possessions.

“We talked everything out,” Durant said. “When we messed up on a few things, we talked it out amongst each other and got past it and did it better the next time. That was the most important thing for us, communicating.”

Those defensive stops have been fuel for the Thunder on the other end of the floor as well. Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club has used both sides of the floor and kept opposing defenses on the move because the Thunder’s distribution of the ball has been both precise and selfless. The turnovers are low, in fact in single digits the last two games, and the assists have been high, which is helping everyone on the floor get into a rhythm.

“The way we’ve been moving the ball, making plays for each other has been great,” Perkins said. “Everybody has been feeling like a part of the offense, which triggers everybody to play pretty good defense.”

In the Notes:

- The Thunder is 1-0 against the Pelicans this season, and overall is 13-6 against New Orleans in the regular season.

- The Thunder is 18-3 this season when it has its normal starting five intact.

- The Thunder is 29-3 this season when registering more assists than its opponent.

Broadcast Info:

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