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News » Looking beyond Thunder's 5-5 record

Looking beyond Thunder's 5-5 record

Looking beyond Thunder's 5-5 record Some NBA coaches like to break down their teams in five- or 10-game intervals, sampling a small segment of games to analyze the things being done well and the areas that need improvement.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks prefers the one-game-at-a-time approach.

"I keep it simple with our guys. Do we play hard and did we play for each other?" Brooks said. "I try to keep effort in and selfish out...If you play extremely hard, good things usually happen. You're not guaranteed it. But if you don't play hard you're guaranteed nothing good is going to happen."

Oklahoma City has given good effort throughout most of the first 10 games of this marathon NBA season, and as a result the Thunder is beginning to show its true colors. Sunday's 101-93 defeat to the Los Angeles Clippers dropped Oklahoma City to 5-5, a solid start considering the land mines that make up this month's schedule. There have been good times and bad, highs and lows and ups and downs. Here's what we've learned about the Thunder through the first 10-game set:

→The defense has had a dramatic improvement

After giving up an average of 103.1 points last season, the Thunder has allowed 100 points or more just four times this season - and one of the opponent's triple-digit games came in overtime against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Thunder entered Sunday's game allowing just 90.3 points and has yet to give up more than 105 points.

→OKC can contend with anyone

Already, the Thunder has stood toe-to-toe with both NBA Finalists from a year ago, a potent Portland team, a surprisingly stubborn Houston squad and notched road wins at Detroit and San Antonio. Only three games - wins against Sacramento and Orlando and a loss against the Rockets - have not been decided in the final minutes.

→Inconsistency remains

The Thunder is one of the youngest teams in the league and plays like it. Sunday's loss, on the heels of a big win at San Antonio, characterized the ups and downs the Thunder is likely to display throughout the final 72 games. It was the second time the Thunder has followed up a momentum-building win with a disappointing loss, losing at Sacramento two days after beating Orlando.

→Ball movement fluctuates

Surprising as it might be, the Thunder has recorded 20 or more assists five times this season but has finished with 15 or fewer four times. Not surprisingly, the Thunder is 4-1 when it records 20 or more assists and 0-4 when it fails to get more than 15.

→The offense struggles in the halfcourt and late in games

Only three times thus far has the Thunder shot 44 percent or better from the field. It's a stat that can be attributed to the Thunder's primary talent being at the wing positions and lacking a consistent low-post scorer. Some of the early kinks should be ironed out in the weeks to come. But OKC has yet to identify a consistent approach when looking to close out games. The Thunder is averaging just 20.3 points in the fourth quarter, its lowest point production period. Defense has prevented the lack of scoring from ballooning into a bigger issue, as the Thunder has allowed just 20.5 points in the final period.

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Author: Fox Sports
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Added: November 19, 2009


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