Thunder Hitting the Ground Running After All-Star Break

HOUSTON – With players who have built camaraderie and continuity, it is clear the Thunder has a connection in the locker room amongst the players, coaches and staff.

On the court it’s even more obvious because of the way the team works as a unit. In its first practice session after the All-Star Break, Head Coach Scott Brooks’ squad assembled in Houston to get in a good afternoon of work in advance of its game against the Rockets on Wednesday night. More than anything, it was just great to get all of the personalities back together and see the team enjoy being as one on and off the floor.

“It’s good to get them all back together,” Brooks said. “You’re away from them for three or four days. It seems like a short period of time, but it’s a long time. You miss the guys. You miss their enthusiasm, you miss their togetherness and their brotherhood. You just miss them being who they are.”

Fortunately for the Thunder that continuity that has been built over the years because of the leadership of players like Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Nick Collison. Those three have been with the organization since day one in Oklahoma City, and along with veterans like Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka and Kevin Martin, the Thunder has players who understand the necessary focus it takes to get right back into the swing of things the day after All-Star Weekend. That attitude was on display during today’s practice.

“It was a good day,” Martin said. “We’re ready to get back at it tomorrow. That was the thing today, we just picked up right where we left off last Wednesday or Thursday. Guys are professionals on this team. We have veteran leadership and we came right in and got back to work.”

The Thunder hit the ground running with its practice today, picking up right where it left off in terms of being in rhythm with one another as a unit. That should be no surprise considering the squad’s affinity for staying in the gym, keeping their bodies in prime condition and being mentally locked in. That combination of attributes leads to a successful culture, one that has been built in Oklahoma City with hard work as the central theme.

“We love the gym here,” Brooks said. “We love working, we love being with our guys and improving our players,” Brooks said. “Continue to build our good habits. One of the things we talk about as a group is keep working and making every day a work day. We’ve done that.”

In preparation for the Rockets, the Thunder used today’s session to get its timing down on the offensive end and continually work on its communication and execution of team principles on the defensive end. It’s always about making gradual, steady improvement over the years under Coach Brooks. As the team’s elder statesman, that philosophy is crystal clear to Collison, who is helping younger players understand the required attention to detail and work ethic by setting a great example with his work each day. To Collison, practice sessions like today’s are essential in the process of jumping back into regular season play after a four-day break.

“I think it’s important to get some good work in today, get up and down,” Collison said. “It usually doesn’t take much to get back on track and have your body feel good again… We have a good routine here. We have guys that know how to work and put in work on their own. We’ll fall right in.”