Thunder Utilized Days Off, Excited to be Home

The Thunder may be coming off a stretch when it ping-ponged all over the West to play in six different cities in eight days, but after two days off the team is well-rested and ready for period in which six of its next seven games will be played at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

“It’s just good to be home in our own house, our own city,” Head Coach Scott Brooks said. “We’re going to be home for a while. That doesn’t guarantee victories. We still have to work on a lot of the things that we need to improve and play with good energy, but it’s nice to be in front of our home crowd for a while.”

The team traveled back from Salt Lake City in the early hours of Saturday morning following its 101-87 victory over the Utah Jazz. The Thunder was able to rest for most of the weekend with the exception of an optional practice on Sunday. All-Star forward Kevin Durant disclosed that he was instructed by Thunder trainer Joe Sharpe to spend 10 hours in bed on Saturday night in order to give his body the rest it needed and get re-adjusted to the time zone change. By Monday, Durant said, the entire team was ready to lock in and have a productive practice as it continues working to improve as a unit.

“I’m glad we’re back home now,” Durant said. “We get to focus on trying to take care of our home court. We’re going to have some tough teams coming here, but it’s going to be fun. I’m looking forward to it.”

Brooks was a bit concerned that the long road trip, coupled with two days off, might be a schedule that put his players off-kilter. Pleasantly surprised, Brooks said his players were fresh, practice was sharper than he expected and there was a great deal of enthusiasm on the court. Part of that excitement likely has to do with the fact that the Thunder players and coaches know they will be at home for the majority of the next two weeks leading up to the All-Star break.

After a rematch Tuesday night with the Jazz, the Thunder travels to Houston to play the Rockets on Wednesday before hosting the Golden State Warriors, Denver Nuggets, New Orleans Hornets, Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers over a seven-day stretch. Brooks’ squad still recognizes that despite being at home, it still must play seven games in 10 nights, which is no easy task. An increasingly self-aware bunch, the Thunder also recognizes that during this home stand it will have one big asset -- its fans, which will help the team take each game one at a time and tackle each challenge as it comes.

“We have a lot of pride in our home court,” Brooks said. “When we play in front of our fans, our players love it. They appreciate the support that they get here every night. It doesn’t matter what night of the week, weather conditions, nothing keeps our fans from coming out and supporting us. Our guys like that. They understand that they have a job to do, which is play hard and give the fans what they want. They want effort and good play, and I think they’ve been getting that.”