Fast Break Points- June 3 Notebook

In Games 3 and 4 of the Western Conference Finals, the Thunder has concentrated on making the correct play on every possession, and as a result the team has racked up assist numbers and has been tied on a string defensively. That ability to make the right play each time down court is based on mutual trust between the coaching staff and the team and the players amongst one another. Head Coach Scott Brooks spoke about the importance of that aspect of his team before the team got on the plane to head back to San Antonio for Game 5.

“Trust is the most important word in basketball,” Brooks said. “If you don’t have trust, you don’t have a good team. We have a very good team that trusts one another.”

Brooks went on to further explain how that trust has been built amongst this Thunder team that has been growing and maturing together over a number of years. The self-awareness of the club has grown and with veterans like Derek Fisher and Kendrick Perkins to help guide them, the young Thunder has made tremendous strides in its mutual faith in one another.

“Trust is not just passing and sharing the basketball,” Brooks said. “Trust is believing that you’re always going to do the right thing at all times and not just when it feels good or things are going well for you. You have to do it when things are not going well for you because that’s when you can build stronger trust, especially on offense and defense also. If you’re not doing your job, your teammate might not want to do his job. But if everybody is doing his job you put yourself in a good position to win.”

Below are the Fast Break Points from Sunday's media session:

-Brooks on needing to continue to scramble, close out and play smart defense: “You have to be able to play defense against a great passing team, against a lot of good players. We have to do that for four quarters, every possession.”

-Brooks on the way the Thunder has and needs to continue to share and move the ball on offense: “We have to keep moving the basketball. We’ve done a great job all Playoffs of not turning the ball over, which was a problem of ours during the regular season. But we somehow have done a good job with that. Also, just moving the basketball, everybody is touching it, everybody is participating in the offense. We’re just not a one-sided offensive team, we’re moving the ball on the second side and coming back to the strong side. That’s what we have to do.”

-Brooks on the energy and lift the crowd at Chesapeake Energy Arena gave the team: “I think the momentum was great. We just played well at home. It’s always good to be in your home building. We have a great crowd. Our fans are the best in basketball. They’re right with me and right with the players. It’s exhausting after games, you’re exhausted and you can see the fans, as they’re leaving the building, they felt the same way our players did and our staff did. They’ve been great.”

-Brooks, joking about the alleged chess match between himself and Spurs Head Coach Greg Popovich, comparing each other as players: “I keep hearing about that, but I’m not looking at this game or this series as about Pop and me. Pop was a heck of a player, he led his college team in scoring, he was the last cut from the ’72 Olympic team. I was probably a better shooter than him, but he was a better playmaker. It’s not really about Pop and I and I don’t think it ever will be. It’s about the Spurs, it’s about the Thunder and I’m excited to coach our team. I know we have a great opportunity to go down there and win a game.”

-Brooks on Kevin Durant’s work ethic and how it has shaped him into one of the best scorers and closers in the league: “He deserves the success that he has because he tackles every day with a lot of work and a lot of effort. We’re very fortunate to have him. He’s a high-character guy, he believes in what we do, he’s coach-able, we get on him all the time. He wants more. He doesn’t back away from any of that. For him to make 16 straight points, it’s not coaching, it’s Kevin.”

-By the way, here was Kevin Durant’s stat line from Saturday night: 13-for-20 shooting, 1-for-2 from three point land, 9-for-9 from the free throw line, for 34 points, plus he had eight assists, six rebounds, a blocked shot and only one turnover.

-Brooks on the way the Thunder executed late in the game: “Russell (Westbrook) set great screens and when they switched off (Tony) Parker on James (Harden), we had James set the screens. We did a good job of executing the play and just making the pass on target and it allowed him to do a good job of making the shots. Serge made a good flare screen to get James free for a three.”

- Brooks on Russell Westbrook’s intangible plays that have helped the Thunder win, whether it was setting pin down screens for Durant or chasing down Spurs players and knocking the ball away: “I’m happy with Russ the last two games. His numbers don’t stand out and say, wow, he had a major impact on the offensive end, but he did. He made timely passes, he set incredible screens and he chased down a couple of plays that probably only Russell can do. In the NBA, there are not a lot of guys that can do what he did, chase down (Tony) Parker and catch him and deflect the ball. He has a lot of skill and he has a lot of determination but I thought his screens to get those shots open for Kevin were just as important as Kevin making them.”