Shoot Around Report: Suns

After a day off Saturday the Oklahoma City Thunder were back at work early Sunday morning, starting shoot-around at 9:30 instead of the customary 10am. Turns out the Thunder are 2-8 in Sunday games but both victories came after 9:30 practices.

“Yeah and that’s why we came in at 9:30,” joked Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks.

The coach does have a lot to smile about. The Thunder are coming off two straight impressive performances, clobbering Indiana at home Wednesday night and beating a tough Atlanta club on the road Friday night.

“We’re playing well right now,” he acknowledged. And they’ll have to keep that up with a hot Suns team in town tonight.

“Steve Nash just makes great decisions every time down the court and they surround him with great shooters. and a big time roller in (Marcin) Gortat and (Robin) Lopez. We played ‘em well in the second half of the last game mainly because we only gave up one fast break point.”

The Thunder won that game in Phoenix 111-107, after losing in Oklahoma City earlier in the season 113-110.

“They’re gonna shoot a lot of threes and they make a lot obviously,” the coach told reporters, “but we just can’t give them the easy transition lay ups and we prevented that from happening last game.”

Preventing that from happening tonight will again be a focus for the Thunder.

“Yeah, we can’t give them transition points, they have so many good 3-point shooters if you give them lay ups in transition you’re gonna be put in such a tough position because they make threes and we don’t want that.”

Nash is battling an inflammation in his pelvic bone that has caused him some discomfort but that hasn’t slowed the Suns down. They’ve won four of the five games they’ve played so far on this road trip. Newly acquired backup point guard Aaron Brooks has been a thorn in the Thunder side from his days in Houston.

“Brooks gives them another dimension,” the head coach said, “and he has frustrated us at times so with Steve Nash out you can’t rest, Brooks can score and he can score a lot in a quarter. So we have to really be good defensively for 48 minutes tonight.”

--Kevin Durant reported no swelling after Friday night’s game in his left ankle. He was not limited during the morning shoot-around.
--James Harden has been hot since the All-Star break. He has scored in double figures in each of the last seven games, averaging 17.0 points per game on 46.7% shooting. During that same time he’s been almost perfect at the free throw line (21-for-22).
“He’s been really good,” Coach Brooks admitted, “he’s attacking the basket, he’s making shots, he’s getting to the free throw line, he’s just playing with a lot of confidence.”
--Oklahoma City shot 50.6% from the field against the Hawks, the Thunder improved to 16-2 this season when shooting better than 50%.
--In the first meeting with the Suns this season, a loss, OKC shot just 42.9%. In the second meeting, a win, the Thunder hit 51.2%

Tip off is set for 6pm inside Oklahoma City Arena. You can see the game on Fox Sports Oklahoma or listen in on the Thunder Radio Network.