Thunder Finally Back To Full Strength
By Randy Renner
It's been a long time coming but the Oklahoma City Thunder are finally healthy again for the first time since this season.
All 15 members of the roster were able to practice yesterday, yes even Perry Jones who's been out for the last month with a "bruised knee."
"It's great that we finally have our entire roster able to participate in practice," Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said after his team's workout. "Perry practiced today, we'll see how he feels each day going forward. Mitch (McGary) has played some games in the D-League and so has Grant (Jerrett) so it's good to have our entire group back."
The unfortunate thing is, now that everyone is back, the Thunder may be reverting back to some old bad habits, relying on superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to save the day when things are going badly like in New Orleans Tuesday night.
"I think you can easily point to that and that's a fair observation," admitted Brooks. "But I refuse to let the guys use anything as an excuse. Our jobs are still to play to the best of our abilities and play with a defensive mindset."
Defense was primarily the problem in Tuesday's 112-104 loss in New Orleans and it was the primary focus of Wednesday's practice.
"We can't afford to have five or six minutes of the defensive intensity disappear on us," Brooks said. "But I thought (Wednesday's) film session and our work on the floor was really good."
The Thunder have usually rebounded well from bad games especially when fully healthy. Durant, who played 30 minutes Tuesday night, said he felt fine physically after the game.
"I felt great, I definitely wanted to play better but I'm just glad I'm able to be out there playin' man, cuz once you're away from the game so much you just appreciate being out there."
Durant missed seven weeks because of the Jones fracture in his right foot. Now that he's back on the court he's also thrilled to have all his teammates out there again with him.
"It feels great just to have everybody back, everybody's healthy again. It's great to see Perry back, it's good to see Mitch out there and I'm happy I'm out there."
The Thunder now can really begin the process of getting back to normal and stabilizing the starting lineup and the backups who will be in the regular rotation.
"We had guys that played a certain way when we were out and now roles have changed, lineups have changed and we've gotta adjust quickly," Durant said.
At 5-13 the Thunder need to start winning games consistently. Tuesday was a lost opportunity. They get two more chances over the next few days to capitalize against weaker opponents with games in Philadelphia (Friday) and Detroit (Sunday).
Now that the roster is healthy again it's time to get the win-loss record back on its feet.