OKC at HOU Preview –48 Minutes of Defensive Focus

HOUSTON – The Thunder has been hard at work over the past 48 hours since its loss in Memphis to the Grizzlies on Tuesday night, preparing to put its best foot forward tonight as it takes on the Houston Rockets.

With an extended film session on Wednesday afternoon after arriving in Houston in the wee morning hours, the Thunder took an inward look at some areas it can continue to improve upon not just tonight, but as the season progresses.

Head Coach Scott Brooks’ team, led by veterans Kevin Durant and Nick Collison, followed up that film work with shoot-around this morning to put what they saw in film to work and get some shots up to get into a rhythm. With its sole focus on tonight’s contest against the Rockets, the Thunder put energy into both its internal improvement but also its gameplan for the night.

“We just watched our film from the last game and the energy and effort has to be better,” Durant explained. “Of course technique is something you can work on, but energy and effort has to be there every time down. It should be better tonight.”

“Just to play with focus for 48 minutes and continue to play together,” Brooks said. “We had a great film session yesterday and pointed out some of the things we need to improve on as a group. We’ve always improved whether it’s on the practice floor, during a shootaround or in the film room. This group believes in getting better every day and we have a great opportunity tonight against one of the best teams in the West. “

In terms of how it specifically has to look at this Houston opponent, the Thunder will look at both what made it successful in the two teams’ early season matchup in addition to what the Rockets have been doing lately. There is a strong familiarity between these two teams from their ten total games played against one another over the past 14 months, so the Thunder knows that getting back and showing a wall of men in transition and then chasing three-point shooters off the line will be crucial to success.

“Transition defense is a big key,” Durant said. “Getting out to their shooters and also closing up the paint. Just about everything with this team, they can do. We have to be on point in every aspect of the game tonight. We’re looking forward to it.”

There was a familiar face at shoot-around this morning, as former Thunder guard Royal Ivey was back on the court donning Thunder gear, after the team signed him to a ten-day contract this morning. It remains to be seen how much Ivey will contribute on the game floor, but as a key member of the 2011-12 Thunder squad that advanced all the way to the NBA Finals, Ivey has great experience along with a wonderful rapport with numerous players in the Thunder locker room.

“One of the things that we all love about him is that he’s always been a player who is committed to winning,” Brooks said. “He’s a great guy. He’s loved by all of his teammates. You’ll never hear a bad thing said about him. You win with guys who have that fiber of winning and doing whatever it takes to win.”

In the Notes:

- The Thunder is 1-0 against the Rockets this season, and overall is 9-10 against Houston in the regular season.

- The Thunder is 24-4 when grabbing more rebounds than its opponent.

- The Thunder is 11-1 this season when five-or-more players score 10-or-more points.

Broadcast Info:

8:30 p.m. CT. TV – TNT; Radio – 98.1 FM The Sports Animal, Thunder Radio Network