Thunder Taking its Show on the Road
Some wins were close and others well in hand, but over the past two weeks the Thunder has gotten the job done.
Riding a seven-game winning streak, including a sweep of its challenging six-game home-stand, the Thunder embarks on a stretch of five-of-six games on the road in early December, starting with a Tuesday night battle in Sacramento against the Kings. Thanks to home victories over the Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers, Utah Jazz, San Antonio Spurs, Golden State Warriors and Minnesota Timberwolves, the Thunder put together a solid stretch that can propel it forward into its road trip.
Head Coach Scott Brooks has gotten big nights from usual suspects like Kevin Durant’s 32 point, 12-assist, 10-rebound, four block, four steal stat stuffer on Sunday night against Minnesota, in addition to heroics from Russell Westbrook, who hit a game-winning three-pointer against the Warriors. The Thunder won all six games, however, due to the contributions of every man on the roster, who in some way impacted the game.
“That was a goal we set for ourselves, to go out and win every game on this home stand for these two weeks,” guard Reggie Jackson said. “It’s been somebody different night-in and night-out, but we’ve done it collectively.”
Jackson is one example of a player who has stepped up when called upon, as the third year point guard averaged 13.7 points per game during the homestand in addition to 3.2 assists and 4.5 rebounds. It seemed to be a different player each night who came through for the Thunder, as the team approached each contest with a unique, specific gameplan while still maintaining consistent focus and intensity.
Serge Ibaka, Jeremy Lamb, Kendrick Perkins, Thabo Sefolosha, Nick Collison, Steven Adams and Derek Fisher each had a hand in the way the Thunder performed over the past two weeks, and each man, in addition to Perry Jones, Hasheem Thabeet, Andre Roberson and Ryan Gomes, will be counted on for the rest of the season as well.
“We just tried to take it one game at a time,” Durant said. “We didn’t try to look too far down the line. It was very fortunate that we were able to be home for almost two weeks and to be able to protect our home floor. It was a good stretch and now it’s time to take it on the road.”
As the Thunder heads west to take on the Kings and the Portland Trailblazers on a back-to-back, it will be challenged both stylistically and strategically. The Thunder’s road trip then moves on to New Orleans on Friday night before the team returns to Chesapeake Energy Arena for a home clash against the Indiana Pacers. It’ll be a short stay in Oklahoma City before the Thunder heads east for a back-to-back against the Atlanta Hawks and Memphis Grizzlies.
In order for the Thunder to have the same type of success on the road that it has at home, it will need to abide by the same principles that helped it be productive on both ends of the floor. Communication, cohesion and dedication to taking care of the details of the game will be critical for every lineup, and player grouping that hits the floor over the next two weeks.
“Just being together, playing aggressive and moving the ball,” Lamb said. “Those little things really help get easy shots, and easy shots are what we want. We can all knock down shots, we can hit Nick Collison and those guys off the pick-and-rolls and we can do a lot of different things.”
“I think playing together is the biggest part of it,” Lamb said.