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News » NETS 103, THUNDER 99, OT


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - If Oklahoma City hasn't turned the corner, the Thunder certainly is peeking its head around it.

But it'll seemingly take a few more setbacks like Monday's 103-99 overtime road loss to the New Jersey Nets before the Thunder fully escapes the dark cloud hovering above the franchise and its league-worst 6-33 record.

The Thunder wrapped up a stretch of five games in seven nights with a 2-3 record, a respectable mark considering three of the past five games were on the road and it took Oklahoma City 18 games to notch its second win of the season.

The Thunder's play in the past five games is even more inspiring because of how two of the past three defeats have came by only a combined six points. Oklahoma City held its opponents to less than 100 points on three occasions during the stretch.

"This team has a lot of heart and a lot of belief in each other," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "That's why we're continuing to battle and stick together."

The Thunder continues to make strides because of its defensive improvement. Oklahoma City entered Monday's game allowing opponents to shoot 47.4 percent from the field, the fourth highest percentage in the league. But over the past five games, the Thunder has limited teams to a more than respectable 44.2 percent shooting. That still doesn't tell the full story because of the 52.2 percent the Thunder allowed in a 42-point loss at Minnesota.

"I think we are playing better than we were a few weeks ago," said Nick Collison. "It's hard as a player to still get beat. But we can all see the improvement we're making, and it definitely feels much better out there the way we're playing now."

The Thunder couldn't overcome a career night from rookie center Brook Lopez, whose game-high 31 points was a career high and 13 rebounds tied a career high.

Behind Lopez, the Nets built a 12-point, fourth-quarter lead before the Thunder showed some of the same fight it has over much of the past three weeks. Oklahoma City ended the fourth quarter on a 19-7 run to force overtime.

The Thunder had two chances to win it in regulation, overcoming 20 turnovers that led to 24 New Jersey points. But Kevin Durant missed a 21-foot jumper with 33.9 seconds remaining, and Russell Westbrook couldn't tip in a game-winner with 0.5 seconds left.

The Nets then raced to a 7-0 run in the overtime period, and the Thunder never got closer than two with 1:25 remaining.

"We've been playing hard," said Durant, who scored a team-high 26 points but finished with five turnovers. "We could have won the game. I missed another (potential game-winner), but we made it competitive in the fourth. We used to put our heads down and lose by 12 or 14 early in the year. But we came back and we fought hard."

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: January 15, 2009


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