Kevin Durant is far from satisfied with how the Oklahoma City
Thunder are playing. And it doesn’t matter that they’re tied with
the Miami Heat for the NBA’s best record.
”I’m greedy,” said Durant, the All-Star Game MVP after a
36-point performance. ”There’s some games we lost that we should
have won. But, all in all, it was decent.
”We’ve got to keep working, keep improving. We can’t be happy
with just being 27-7. There’s a lot of things we have to work
Specifically, coach Scott Brooks wants Oklahoma City to get
better on the boards and at sharing the ball without committing
The second half of the season begins Wednesday night at
Philadelphia, the start of a three-game road trip.
”We’ve got some room to get better, but we’ve done a good
job,” said Brooks, who was put in charge of the West All-Stars
because of the Thunder’s impressive start. ”Guys have really done
a good job of competing every night and practicing when we were
able to practice and finding ways to get better on the fly. … Our
guys don’t rest. They want to keep moving forward.”
The Thunder made it to the Western Conference finals last
season, a rapid rise for one of the league’s worst teams only two
seasons earlier. This year, they’re third in the league in scoring
(102.7) and rank in the top five in both field-goal percentage
offense and defense.
It’s the little things that need improving before the playoffs
start in two months.
Oklahoma City commits the second-most turnovers in the league,
just behind the New York Knicks, and is 27th out of 30 teams in
assists per game despite scoring at such a high clip.
Durant and fellow All-Star Russell Westbrook are among the
biggest offenders. Westbrook has long been among the leaders in
turnovers and is tied with New Jersey’s Deron Williams for the most
in the NBA this season. Durant is ninth.
Westbrook (4.2) and Durant (3.6) – two of the league’s top seven
scorers – are responsible for about half the team’s 16.9 turnovers
”I’ve been up and down,” Durant said. ”I think I’ve been
confident in myself. I’ve tried to play more of a floor game, tried
to have more of an all-around game.”
NBA scoring leader Kobe Bryant had a much more glowing
assessment of the Thunder after finishing the first half with a
loss at Oklahoma City on Thursday night.
Bryant said the Thunder have three of his favorite players in
the league – Durant, Westbrook and top reserve James Harden – plus
the player he considers the league’s best post defender, Kendrick
He was particularly protective of Westbrook, who draws frequent
criticism for occasionally taking more shots than Durant and
committing so many turnovers.
”Everybody needs to just lay off on Russell. That’s a bad
little dude, man,” Bryant said. ”You guys are fortunate to have
him. You guys have two explosive scorers. I like how he’s playing.
He just has to continue to improve and do his thing.”
Bryant even sees some of himself in Westbrook.
”He’s got the same type of dog that I had in me, that I still
have in me, when I was coming up playing with Shaq. He’s got the
same fight,” Bryant said.
That fight helped Bryant win five NBA championships. The
youthful Thunder are still seeking their first.
”We’ve just started to jell – young guys that love playing
basketball, that’s all that we do. It makes it easier to come to
work every day,” Durant said. ”I’m just blessed I’m a part of
this organization. Everybody is just Grade A, and I’m glad we’re
getting better as a group.”