Thunder Will Work Harder in Game 2

Thunder players and coaches know what went wrong Sunday afternoon.

“We didn’t come out with any energy,” Kevin Durant told reporters after the game.

“I thought we were a step slow,” Head Coach Scott Brooks admitted at the same time.

Now the work has started to make sure there are no such issues in Game 2 of the Thunder-Grizzlies series late Tuesday night.

“I have to do a better job of making sure we’re going into the game playing at the level that it takes to win in this league,” Brooks told reporters Monday afternoon. “Our guys came back with great energy and focus today in our film session and on the practice court. We’re excited about (Tuesday) they played well (Sunday) they earned it, no excuses for us they just outplayed us now we have a chance to do the same against them.”

Bouncing back after a loss is something the Thunder did better than almost any other team in the NBA this past season. OKC’s 20-6 record in bounce-back games was second only to the Chicago Bulls mark of 16-4. So far in the playoffs Oklahoma City is 1-0 coming off a loss.

“That’s one of our strengths,” acknowledged Brooks. “Our guys always seem to come out with great urgency in games after a loss, so I expect our guys to come back (Tuesday) and play better basketball. Hopefully we can take them out of some of the things they like to do.”

As far as any changes the Thunder need to make point guard Russell Westbrook had a quick answer for that question.

“Just play with more effort, that’s the biggest adjustment we can make,” he said. “We were in the right spots we just weren’t playing with a lot of effort.”

As to why that was Westbrook wasn’t as sure with his response.

“I don’t know, that’s the new question we’ve been asking ourselves. We came out a little sluggish and Memphis never took their foot off the gas.”

Game 2 will likely be much the same. Thunder shooting guard James Harden expects the Grizzlies to press the issue and he and his teammates will have to push back.

“We have to bring it in the second game. They’re a physical team, that’s the way they’ve been all season and we have to match their physicalness and play our game, push the ball get stops and help our bigs get rebounds.”

That last point is one of the biggest issues. Memphis was able to grab 17 offensive rebounds Sunday, then they were able to convert many of those into points with putbacks.

“We have to do a better job of forcing them off their spots,” Brooks said. “And doing a better job of contesting and we have to make sure we rebound. You can’t give up 22-23 points on offensive rebounds.”

Memphis forward Zach Randolph grabbed four offensive rebounds and Brooks pointed out most of those were his own misses, “Tat’s one of his strengths and we have to do a much better job of closing up the paint we have to all do a better job of that. We were guarding their shooters and they only took eight threes (and made just three of those shots) so we have to do a better job of understanding that and closing out all their paint points or at least try to limit them as much as possible.”

So the Thunder players and coaches know what has to be done now the job is to do it.

Game 2 tips off at 8:30 p.m. inside Oklahoma City Arena. You can watch it on TNT or listen in on the Thunder Radio Network.