INTEGRIS Game Day Report: Thunder at Charlotte Hornets – Jan. 2, 2016
CHARLOTTE – The Thunder has won 12 out of its last 14 games, but the record isn’t what determines how it feels about itself – rather it’s the way it has played.
While on offense it has shot over 50 percent from the field in each of its last three games and five out of its last seven contests, the Thunder’s defense hasn’t been up to standard of late. Self-assessment and recognition of areas for improvement is something the Thunder prides itself upon, and tonight it will try to correct some of those aspects against the Charlotte Hornets.
“Defensively we took a little step back so that’s something we have to re-focus on,” guard Anthony Morrow said. “We feel like we can be an elite defensive team. It’s about consistently staying on the right page.”
“We had a good shootaround today and locked in on some key things we’ve been seeing the last few games from a lot of teams and that we’re going to see tonight with Charlotte,” Morrow continued.
Oftentimes the lifeblood for the Thunder offense is the way it transitions from a stop on defense, so in most cases how it performs on both ends are tied together. In particular, the Thunder can be devastating when it strings together multiple stops in a row and gets out and runs alongside Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in transition. With the Thunder’s length, quickness and athleticism, it can create a layup line for stretches of the game if it plays the right way.
— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) January 1, 2016
“We have to stick to our principles no matter what,” Durant said. “We can’t get discouraged when they make tough shots.”
“When we get stops that helps and run out, that’s discouraging for the other team, because they can’t score then can’t stop us on the other end,” Durant explained.
The Hornets come into the game at 17-15 and in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, yet just five games out of first place. Between Kemba Walker, Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams, P.J. Hairston and Cody Zeller, there’s shooting all over the floor in the Hornets’ starting lineup. Eight different Charlotte players are in the mid-30’s in terms of shooting percentage from the three-point line, meaning the Thunder will have to protect the perimeter, finish off possessions with box outs and be connected for 48 minutes.
“Tonight we have to do a good job of rebounding,” Durant said. “They play small but I wouldn’t say like a traditional small team that likes to play really quick. They do a good job of spacing and shooting threes. We have to contest and get out and run.”
Tip-off: 6:00 p.m. CT
Television: Fox Sports Oklahoma
Radio: WWLS the Sports Animal and the Thunder Radio Network
Digital Content Reporter
Nick Gallo is in his fifth season with the Thunder after spending four seasons in the NFL. The Durham, NC native is a Vanderbilt University graduate and has worked for the New York Jets and Tennessee Titans.You can reach Nick Gallo at email@example.com