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News » Would've been nice to savor

Would've been nice to savor

Would've been nice to savorIn the NBA, you don't stew over loses and you don't marinate wins.

Too bad, because it sure would have been nice if Thunder players could have soaked in Sunday night's 102-74 domination over the defending Eastern Conference champion Orlando Magic for a little while longer.

Roughly 14? hours later, it was back to the same old grind. There was a light-hearted shooting contest to close out Monday's 11 a.m. practice session. At 3:30 p.m., the team boarded its charter flight for tonight's game at Sacramento.

So it goes when you have 82 regular-season games in 169 days.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks wants his players to put a big loss behind them as quickly as possible, and the same also holds true after a big win.

The Thunder's widest victory margin ever inside Ford Center resulted in some wide smiles from the sellout crowd of 18,203. Thunder players smiled, too, but not for long.

"Coach tells us after a win, we'll enjoy it together afterward in the locker room. Once we leave that room, it's over," forward Kevin Durant said.

After the Orlando win, Brooks said something coaches rarely get the opportunity to say. "That is about as good as we could possibly play," Brooks said.

At Monday's practice, Brook reiterated as much and said: "That is about as well as we can play. We did a great job of moving the ball."

The Magic was shorthanded, playing without guard Vince Carter (ankle) and forward Rashard Lewis (10-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs). Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said none of that matters, however.

"They would have beat us if we had everybody," Van Gundy said. "They play much harder than we do. They would have beat us here or in our place. We are just not as tough as they are right now."

Brooks loved his team's offense on Sunday and Van Gundy hated his team's defense. That's usually the way it works in blowouts.

"We are more predicated on shooting, we have no defensive toughness and right now we aren't a very good team," Van Gundy said. "The Thunder (is) much better than us right now ... We are one of the worst defensive teams in the league and it showed tonight. We are a white-collar team right now and those teams won't win on the road."

Sunday easily could be considered the most substantial victory in Thunder history, which now spans 88 games total. Not that Thunder players were trying to make that determination, mind you.

"I wouldn't say that it was," point guard Russell Westbrook said with a shrug. "It's just another win. We had a lot of big wins last year, too."

Um, not all that many.

There was a 102-93 victory over Portland on Feb. 6; a 96-87 victory over Dallas on March 2; a 78-76 victory over San Antonio (no Manu Ginobili) on March 16; a 96-95 victory at San Antonio on March 31; and that's about it. Of the Thunder's other 19 victories, 15 came against non-playoff teams.

Was this Brooks' favorite Thunder win?

"It's up there," admitted a smiling Brooks, who cited the two wins over San Antonio and his first victory as interim head coach at Memphis on Nov. 29, 2008.

Amazingly, had the Thunder made one more shot in regulation in a 101-98 overtime loss against the Lakers, it would have beaten both participants in last year's NBA Finals in back-to-back home games over a span of five days.

"That would have been fun, huh?" Brooks said. "That would have been a good week."

The Thunder's NBA Finals near-sweep also raised Durant's eyebrows.

"That would have been pretty cool," Durant said.

Westbrook said he was excited about what transpired Sunday, but not overwhelmed.

"Yeah, we won," Westbrook said. "It wasn't like the championship or nothing like that."

Teams get to marinate in championships.

John Rohde: 475-3099. John Rohde can be heard Monday-Friday from 6-7 p.m. on The Sports Animal Network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1.

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Added: November 12, 2009


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