Defensive Consistency Key for Thunder

The goal was stated early, before a ball even touched the courts at the INTEGRIS Health Thunder Development Center:

"We have to do a better job of starting the game off with a defensive mindset," Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks said in early December.

Through the first four games, the Thunder has done exactly that. The Thunder is establishing its defensive identity early and maintaining that focus through four quarters. As Nick Collison said early in Training Camp, "The stats don't lie." Consider:

  • The Thunder is holding opponents to 46.5 first-half points and 96.5 for the game;

  • Opponents are shooting just 40.9 percent from the field and 23.9 percent from 3-point range;

  • The Thunder is averaging 6.5 blocks and 6.5 steals per game.

Defense was the deciding factor in the Thunder's 104-102 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night. While Kevin Durant's game-winning 3-point shot created the roar, it was the Thunder's 48-minute defensive effort that kept them in position to ultimately win the game.

"Everybody chipped-in defensively. That's the thing we have been focusing on," Brooks said. "We held a very good team to a low shooting percentage (42.2 percent). ... We won the game on the defensive end."

That focus will continue tonight against the Phoenix Suns. The Thunder prides itself on playing one game at a time, never getting too high or too low, preferring instead to maintain its focus and team-embraced commitment to get better with each passing day.

"They're a very good team, a veteran team and they play the pick-and-roll very well," Thunder guard Thabo Sefolosha said following the morning shoot-around.

The game begins at 7 p.m. in Chesapeake Energy Arena and will air live on Fox Sports Oklahoma and the Thunder Radio Network.