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News » Brooks getting serious about defense

Brooks getting serious about defense

Brooks getting serious about defense
In the final minute of the Thunder's 116-113 win over Sacramento on Feb. 8, Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks demanded one last defensive stop from his team.

But rather than directing the young Thunder players during a late timeout, he demonstrated.

Brooks walked over to Kevin Durant, stuck both hands under the lanky forward's armpits and forcefully raised both his arms as to drive home his point.

Play straight up.

Use your length.

Don't foul.

It's those principles that Durant and Co. will get an ear full of as the team returns from All-Star Weekend today and resumes practice with a rare late session tonight.

Brooks said the team's No. 1 goal coming out of the break is continued improvement on the defensive end of the floor.

"I'd like to see our defense show more consistency," Brooks said. "We've had times where our defense is really, really good. And there are times where our defense needs some work and you'd think that we haven't worked on it. It's important in these last 29 games to be committed with our consistency."

The Thunder entered the All-Star break allowing an average of 103.3 points, the sixth most in the league.

Twelve teams allow 100 points or more, but the Thunder averages only 97.4 points, making it the fifth worst team in scoring differential at minus-5.83.

Worse, the Thunder is allowing teams to shoot 47.2 percent, the league's fifth-highest mark.

Oklahoma City's 7-7 record in January was a microcosm of the defensive inconsistency Brooks refers to.

The Thunder held opponents to fewer than 100 points in six games, going 5-1 and allowing an average of just 92 points in those contests.

In the month's other eight games, the Thunder gave up an average of 112.2 points and went 2-6.

In February, we've seen the Thunder take a step back, allowing 108.8 points in six games and holding opponents to less than 100 points only once.

It's reached the point where you know the Thunder can win any game if players focus on getting defensive stops rather than making it a shootout.

"On offense, we have talented players," Brooks said.

"If we just continue to have good spacing and move the ball and attack, we're going to score our points. But we need to really focus on defense. Where we want to get to is being a consistent defensive team that can score.

"That's going to be a season-long message. We just have to have that, 'We're here to work' mentality every day."


A look at the winning percentages of this year's coaches who took over in midseason.

Coach Team Record Winning %

Tony DiLeo Philadelphia 18-10 0.64% The Sixers were just 9-14 under Maurice Cheeks.

Lionel Hollins Memphis 4-5 0.44% Memphis was on a nine-game skid when Hollins took over, but the Grizzlies have won four of their last six.

Kevin McHale Minnesota 13-19 0.40% His 10-4 mark in January seems a distant memory now that they've lost five of six and Al Jefferson for the season.

Jay Triano Toronto 13-25 0.34% Firing Sam Mitchell looked foolish when he got of to a 2-10 start but 11-15 since is not bad.

Scott Brooks OKC 12-28 0.30 % Even during a 2-17 start he brought some competitiveness to the Thunder.

Ed Tapscott Washington 10-32 0.23% At this pace, the Wizards could have kept Eddie Jordan.

Kenny Natt Sacramento 5-25 0.16% Proof that it's not always the coach's fault.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: February 18, 2009


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