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News » HOUSTON 105, THUNDER 85


HOUSTON 105, THUNDER 85 HOUSTON - When the Thunder gathers as a team this morning and turns on the film from Monday night's game against Houston, Thabo Sefolosha, Jeff Green and James Harden should perk up and pay close attention.

In their 105-85 win over the Thunder at Toyota Center, the Rockets ran a tutorial of how to effectively break a defense's back with the 3-ball. Houston made 11 of 20 from downtown, causing fits with its long-range shooting in both the halfcourt and in transition.

Rockets forwards Shane Battier and Trevor Ariza both went 3-for-5 from beyond the arc. Rookie forward Chase Budinger was on 3-for-4 from deep.

In particular, they made a killing from the corner, using dribble-drive penetration and quick, crisp ball movement to create wide open opportunities.

"They shoot the easiest 3, the corner 3," said Kevin Durant, who netted the Thunder's only two 3s. "They do a great job of getting there, staying in the corner and being disciplined."

Oklahoma City was one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the NBA last season. The Thunder attempted a league-low 11.6 3-pointers per game last season and connected on just 35 percent, which tied for the third lowest. Houston attempted 20.2 per game, the sixth most last year, and tied for third best at 38 percent.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks said he wants to shoot more 3s this season, adding that between Durant, Harden, Green and Sefolosha, the team is better equipped to pull the trigger.

On Monday, however, Green and Harden both went 0-for-2 and Sefolosha didn't have an attempt.

"Looking at the tape, not only are we going to be able to see what we did wrong but what they did right," said Sefolosha, who said he spent time every day this summer working to improve his accuracy from the corner. "Every team is looking for that 3-pointer in the corner. For us, that's going to be big."

For the Thunder , a small wrinkle could benefit so much.

By consistently hitting 3-pointers, the Thunder would force its defenders to play tighter defense and use much less weak side help. It could open more room in the paint for driving opportunities and post offense. With better ball movement, it could also lead to easier baskets and a higher shooting percentage. The Thunder shot just 42.7 percent and had 20 assists against 18 turnovers. The Rockets shot 51.4 percent and had 29 assists to 19 turnovers.

"Once we start knocking that 3 down consistently, teams are going to have to play it and respect it," Durant said. "We just got to continue to work. We've been working on it in practice a lot. So we're going to perfect it and start knocking them down soon."

Harden, the No. 3 overall pick who was selected in part for his ability to spread the floor with his perimeter shooting, is just 3-for-14 from 3-point range in the preseason. He said he's adjusting to becoming a spot-up shooter after being the creator for his Arizona State squad the past two seasons.

"That's my role on this team. I've got to get used to it," Harden said. "These past few games, even in practices, I've just been getting used to catching and shooting. I think that's what my teammates want me to do as well. As time goes on and I get used to that role I can fulfill it better."

San Antonio Spurs at Thunder

→Time: 7:30 tonight

→Where: Frank Erwin Center, Austin, Texas.

→Television: KSBI-TV (Cox 15)

→Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, WWLS 640-AM.

Three things to know

→Tonight's game will be a homecoming for Kevin Durant, who starred at the University of Texas for one season.

→San Antonio has used a different starting lineup in all six of its preseason games.

→This is the Thunder's second-to-last preseason game. Oklahoma City opens the regular season next Wednesday at home against Sacramento.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: October 22, 2009


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