Tied for NBA’s best record, Thunder want more

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

on.”

Specifically, coach Scott Brooks wants Oklahoma City to get

better on the boards and at sharing the ball without committing

turnovers.

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

per game.

”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

Perkins.

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.”