Fast Break Points- May 17 Notebook

The last two minutes of Wednesday night’s 77-75 win over the Lakers was a big topic of conversation during Head Coach Scott Brooks’ 15-plus minute media session this afternoon just before the Thunder departed for Los Angeles.

Brooks took a timeout with 2:08 remaining, and disclosed that he told the team that the game wasn’t over despite the fact the Thunder was down seven points. He said in the huddle that if they can get a quick score and a stop, they could get the game to within five with 1:40 remaining, a more respectable margin. Brooks noted that it is important to communicate well with players during those late game situations.

Below are the Fast Break Points from Thursday's media session as the Thunder prepares for Game 3 in its Round 2 matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Playoffs.

- When asked if his speech resembled John Belushi’s Animal House soliloquy, Brooks could only laugh and say that sometimes in those situations, a coach has to convince himself and his team that they can still pull out the win. The comedy continued when Brooks was asked about his Lacoste shirt, a reference to Russell Westbrook’s infamous bait-and-tackle shirt that he donned in the postgame press conference after Game 1. Brooks simply responded with the words “TJ Maxx” out of the side of his mouth.

- In terms of on-court style, Brooks said that James Harden, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are really good in transition, so in those late game situations, the Thunder likes to maximize those opportunities. The Thunder likes to set a quick screen and run into the screen to get something going to the basket.

- Brooks also talked about taking timeouts in late game situations, something he did at 2:08 remaining but not again until there was 1.0 seconds left in the game. Three years ago, he would have called a timeout 95 percent of the time when the Thunder had the ball down one with 34.9 seconds remaining. Now, it’s nice to be able to get a good shot without letting the other team set up their defense and get their best defenders on the court, Brooks said. He was confident that Durant would get a good look at the basket, and the fact that Durant went to the hoop is a collection of all of the team’s work, and that guys understand what late game situations are about.

- Coach Brooks thought Kendrick Perkins’ toughness inspired the rest of the guys. The other Thunder players, knowing about Perkins’ strained hip, saw how he was feeling in shootaround. “The game is about teamwork and playing for your teammates,” Brooks said. “That’s what Perkins is about, he’s one of the toughest guys in the league.” Brooks also went on to compare Perkins to a comic book character called “Perk- an angry basketball player”. That anger translates into hard work and attention to detail, as Brooks said a player must have respect for his opponent by outworking them but they don’t have to like them.

- When asked about Kevin Durant drawing the assignment of defending Kobe Bryant towards the end of the game, Brooks said Durant is a different style of defensive player. He uses his length and his arms, and if you shoot a shot, you see Kevin’s arms. It was no slight against Harden or Sefolosha, who guarded Bryant all game, it’s just that a team can’t give Bryant the same look at a defender for an extended period of time. Most 6’10” guys are 260 pounds and playing the four. Most guys that height don’t have Durant’s mobility. Durant, after all, can guard positions one through four, and some fives.


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