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News » February to be tough month for Thunder


February to be tough month for Thunder


February to be tough month for Thunder
The Thunder finished January 7-7.

That's a significant turnaround for a team that was 3-29 heading into New Year's Eve.

Now comes the toughest month of the season.

Of the dozen games in February, eight are against the Lakers (twice), Trailblazers (twice), Hornets, Nuggets, Suns and Mavericks.

"We really don't look ahead," said Nick Collison. "I didn't know who we played after Sacramento. But when you hear all those teams that will be tough. You can play well and still not beat those teams. You don't have as much margin for error."

The Thunder essentially will face every Western Conference playoff contender other than Houston and San Antonio after playing Utah Friday night.

"This will be a test to see exactly where we're at," said Chris Wilcox. "It will show us how much we've improved and show us exactly what we need to work on. Hopefully we can pop (win) a few of them, which would really boost our confidence."

Collison said pushing Dallas, San Antonio and Detroit to the wire on the road - combined with recent momentum - is proof the Thunder is better equipped to handle a gauntlet schedule than it was in November or December.

"There's a different feel now," Collison said. "If you asked us early in the season we'd probably have said the same thing, but we probably didn't have the confidence to actually believe it. We do now. If we play well we can win any game."

The Thunder has gained confidence by posting wins over Detroit and Utah, two perennial playoff teams. OKC also gained confidence in buzzer-beater losses to Denver and Detroit and being in most every game lately.

"We'll be going against some great teams, playoff teams," said Kevin Durant. "But if we continue to play like we played (in January) we'll be all right. We just take it one game at a time. Every game is a challenge for us. Every game is fun for us."

Two games against Sacramento (tonight and next Sunday), and road games at Golden State and Memphis, are the only February games against teams with losing records.

"With this group I will never overwhelm them with what we have coming up," said coach Scott Brooks. "We'll focus on the next game and what we can do today. We're just trying to get better. We're focusing on Sacramento."

Because Oklahoma City is such a young team and the schedule is so tough, a 4-8 or 5-7 record could be viewed as a successful month.

What will the Thunder's record be when Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks make their only Ford Center appearance on March 2?

"We have improved the last six weeks," Brooks said. "We know there will be some valleys and some peaks. Whether we win or lose, we'll come back and practice hard the next day."

FEB. SCHEDULE

Feb. 1 at Sacramento Feb. 4 DENVER Feb. 6 PORTLAND Feb. 8 SACRAMENTO Feb. 10 at LA Lakers Feb.11 at Portland Feb. 17 NEW ORLEANS Feb. 20 at Phoenix Feb. 21 at Golden State Feb. 24 LA Lakers Feb. 27 at Dallas Feb. 28 at Memphis

Thunder AT Kings

→When: 2 p.m., today

→Where: ARCO Arena, Sacramento, Calif.

→TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma (Cox 37)

→Radio: WWLS-FM 98.1, WWLS-AM 640

→Live blog: http://blog.newsok.com/nbainokc

Three things to know:

→Seven Kings average double figures.

→Sacramento is 29th in scoring defense (108.2)

→The Kings are riding an 8-game losing streak and are 2-14 in 2009.


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: February 4, 2009

 

 
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