Shoot-around Report: Thunder Looks to Bounce Back

MEMPHIS – Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks has always stressed the importance of playing good defense. He underscored his defense-first philosophy following the Thunder’s shoot-around earlier today in the FedEx Forum.

“We want to defend and rebound and run out and score in transition, that’s how we play and that’s when we’re at our best,” he said. “The first part of it is defense. If we defend, it puts us in good position for success.”

The Thunder is looking to accomplish tonight in Game 4 what it set out to do before leaving Oklahoma City last Friday: win one game in Memphis. Game time is 8:30 p.m. Central and will air live on TNT and the Thunder Radio Network.

The Thunder appeared to have earned at least a split in Memphis in Game 3 Saturday when it had a 13-point lead going into the fourth quarter. But a 10-point fourth quarter opened the door for the Grizzlies, who went on to a 101-93 overtime victory and a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

“The way we closed out that last game, disappointing, no question, but you have to move on. You can’t dwell on a game that cannot be replayed,” Brooks said. “Our guys understand that. We watched the film, we learned from it. Hopefully we come out with great energy and force for 48 minutes because that’s what it takes to win.

“Any time you can have the ball with the score tied and basically shooting the last shot on the road is a good position to be in,” he said. “We’ll take that same opportunity tonight.”

A lot has been written – and spoken -- about the final 12 minutes of regulation in Game 3. Brooks said a defeat like that could be an issue with a lot of NBA teams, but he does not anticipate any lingering effect with the Thunder.

“This team has always been good in bounce-back games,” he said. “I anticipate that same type of fierce, competitive spirit that we’ve always displayed.”

The Thunder is 22-6 in games played after a loss, including 2-0 in the playoffs. The Thunder wrapped up its first-round series with Denver in Game 5 following a loss, and evened its series with Memphis in Game 2 following its loss in the series opener.

Tonight, it will try to even the series before returning to Oklahoma City for Game 5 on Wednesday.