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News » Another defensive gem


Another defensive gem


Another defensive gem
The Thunder is 4-1 since Kevin Durant suffered a sprained ankle 10 days ago.

While shocking on the surface, the explanation is simple: Oklahoma City is winning with defense and rebounding. An 89-74 win over Philadelphia on Sunday night at the Ford Center is the latest example.

"We're playing with a lot of tenacity," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "Our defense is as good as it's been. It's part of the process. We are a much better team with all our guys healthy. We can't lose fact of that. But we're in a good stretch right now."

In the four wins without Durant, opponents are averaging only 84 points. The Sixers' 74 points were the fewest by an Oklahoma City opponent all season.

"We did a good job defending them, contesting shots and closing it with a rebound," Brooks said. "One of Philadelphia's strengths is offensive rebounds. I think they had 21 the other night. They had nine tonight."

For all the talk about Oklahoma City lacking a dominant inside presence, most fans probably would be surprised the Thunder is third in the league in rebounding, ahead of Orlando (Dwight Howard) and Houston (Yao Ming).

"That surprises me," said Nick Collison. "It seems (almost) every game we outrebound the other team, so if I sat down and thought about it it's not so surprising. Lately, we've done a good job of defending and not having so many breakdowns."

A legitimate question was where would scoring come from without Durant and Green, who has been sidelined with a sore back the past four games.

Just as legitimate a question was who would replace the rebounding since Green leads the team (7.0) and Durant is third (6.6).

The answer is Collison and Co. Collison recorded yet another double-double (12 points, 11 rebounds). During the five games Durant has been sidelined, Collison has averaged 9.4 rebounds.

"Our goal every game is to play good team defense and gang rebound, everybody crashing wherever the ball goes," Collison said. "That's kind of the way it's been most of the season."

Philadelphia, the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference, closed the first quarter on a 17-3 run to lead 24-18. OKC answered with a 20-2 spurt to open the second quarter and led by double digits the rest of the game.

"Our bench is better than what a lot of people think," said Thunder backup point guard Earl Watson. "We, Damien (Wilkins) and Nick, and guys like that, guys who have been in the playoffs. So the experience is there."

BY THE NUMBERS

League's top rebounding teams

Rank Team RPG 1. LA Lakers 44.5 2. Indiana 43.6 3. Okla. City 43.1 4. Orlando 43.0 5. Houston 43.0

Thunder reboundingover the past 5 games

Player Last 5 Season Nick Collison 9.4 6.9 Thabo Sefolosha 7.0 3.3 Nenad Krstic 5.4 5.3 Malik Rose 4.8 2.0 Jeff Green n/a 7.0 Kevin Durant n/a 6.6

Thunder opponents scoring

Last 5 games Season 88.8 103.4


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: March 12, 2009

 

 
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