By Randy Renner
Welcome back Thunder defense. It's been too long.
You could almost feel the relief inside the INTEGRIS Thunder Development Center today when reporters were allowed in toward the end of the Thunder's practice session.
A win can do that for you. Especially one over a quality opponent and a team that all of a sudden was breathing down your neck in the Western Conference standings
Like Scott Brooks said last night, "It's a good feeling on what I can talk about, we don't have to get better on the defensive end tonight, but we're still going to work on it."
And today that's exactly what they did, because afterall, "we're still just one game removed from not playing the way we wanna play night in and night out," Brooks cautioned. "So we have to look at that as just one game. We gotta come back and do the same thing tomorrow."
Ah, yes, tomorrow. The Los Angeles Lakers will be in town and the Thunder have a score to settle with guys from SoCal.
"It's great, it's great, it's great," said Serge Ibaka, barely containing his excitement. "After what we did against them last game in L.A. it's great to get them back soon because I know we gonna do a better job. We respect them because they beat us. And now we will do the best we can to play better basketball."
Ibaka had another double-double last night, his 23rd of the season, with 12 points and 16 rebounds. He also blocked four shots.
Ibaka has been much more consistent with his game this season than at any other time.
"It's just focus man," he said. "This is my fifth year now, so I am learning what is good for my body and what is bad for me," in order to maintain a top level.
He and rookie Steven Adams combined to limit Rockets center Dwight Howard to just 1-for-10 shooting through almost all of the first three quarters.
"We just did a bunch of homework on Dwight really," Adams said. "Our coaches did a good job and Perk was giving me a couple of tips on gameday, just stuff to look out for."
Starting center Kendrick Perkins may not be able to play yet form that groin injury but he's been a constant voice in Adams' ear during practice and in games.
Perkins had hounded Howard from their days in the Eastern Conference and Perk's been talking to Adams again how to take Lakers big man Pau Gasol out of his comfort zone.
"Don't let him get a deep catch, extend him out, contest his shots," and then this obvious tip from The Scowl, "bump him up, I don't think he likes contact too much so I'm gonna try to bump him up as much as possible."