Reggie & Perk Closer To Return, Maybe
By Randy Renner
Thunder head coach Scott Brooks doesn't really like talking about injured players and how close, or not, they are to returning to the lineup.
Today of course he was asked about the progress of Reggie Jackson, Thabo Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins and whether they were able to participate much in Monday's practice.
"Thabo no, Reggie and Perk just did a few minutes of our warmup drill," Brooks told reporters.
At least that's better than what it's been when none of the three were able to do anything in practice and instead just continued to work with the training staff.
"They're coming along," was about all Brooks would venture as to their progress, "and they're working to get ready soon but I don't know when that will be."
The Thunder have a couple of days of practice and rest to try to get healthy, especially where Jackson is concerned.
Brooks said today it's still safe to assume that starting point guard Russell Westbrook will sit out one of the games in the upcoming back-to-back with San Antonio on Thursday night and Houston on Friday night.
Normally Jackson would fill in for Westbrook but if he can't go it will leave Brooks with an interesting decision to make as to who would get the start running the point.
As far as today's practice, the mission was simple.
"Just get better," Brooks said. "We're not worried about the back-to-back, we're worried about having a good practice today and we did. The guys really got after it."
Typically in these kinds of situations, with some extra time before the next game, the Thunder will work mostly on their own game, rather than specifically on the next opponent, although it's tough not to think about that next opponent.
"We know that San Antonio is playing good basketball right now and we'll be ready when that day comes but we're just focused on things that we feel are important."
Most of that still involves getting better on the defensive end of the floor. Though the Thunder controlled and at times dominated both Sacramento and Utah with their defense there were also times when the Thunder defense relaxed too much.
In Sunday's game with the Jazz the Thunder held them to just nine points on 19 percent shooting in the first quarter, but then gave up a combined 68 in the second and third frames.
"Those are the areas that we're trying to cleanup and get better," Brooks said. "And I see that we have, but we can't have a few minutes here and there that we're not locked in."
The defense will have to be locked in and focused Thursday night because the Spurs are disciplined enough and experienced enough to work their offense to get not just a good shot, but the best shot possible.
The Spurs seldom settle.
"They make you work, they pass and they cut, they make shots, they spread you out with their 3-point shooters so we really have to focus in on playing the entire 24 seconds and 48 minutes."
While the Thunder have some extra time to rest and get ready, the Spurs are in the middle of a six games in nine nights stretch. They're playing the Indiana pacers tonight and then Golden State on Wednesday before coming here to OKC for the game with the Thunder on Thursday.
The Thunder might be able to take advantage of what could be a tired bunch on Thursday night. Especially if the Thunder have some of their guys back on the floor playing instead of on the bench cheering.