Thunder Can't Close Warriors Out

By Randy Renner

To paraphrase what Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said to start his postgame news conference, could you guys just read the last few game stories so I can go on home and pop a top?

Okay, for those of you still with me I will tell you this game against the Warriors was much like most of the others in this 3-12 start to the season.  So much so that Brooks began his postgame news conference by saying, "can we just play the last four news conferences over so I don't have to do this again?"

Sorry coach, if I have to write, you have to talk. 

"I thought we did a great job of competing and playing a style that gave us a chance to win, physical, tough, gritty determination, all the important winning words you can use. Unfortunately we came up short, we missed a couple of shots."

Once again great defense played by a bunch of guys who can't seem to shoot straight.  

The Thunder held Golden State to their fewest points of the season and their worst shooting percentage of the season and still managed to lose 91-86. 

The Warriors hadn't scored less than 95 points, nor shot less than 44.0 percent until Sunday night when they scored those 91 points on 35.5 percent shooting. They hadn't won a game in Oklahoma City either since December of 2008 until Sunday night. 

That 2008-09 season is also the last time the Thunder started a season this badly. 

The thing is, this Thunder team, this patched together bunch of backups and backups to backups, has played its collective butt off in every game except that debacle in Brooklyn earlier in the month. 

Yes they're 3-12 and solidly in last place in the Western Conference but they've had a second half lead in 13 of those 15 games and are playing defense at an elite level.

The offense though...oh the offense. 

This game came right down to the last seconds but consecutive air ball threes from Andre Roberson and Lance Thomas ended their hopes. 

So why were two guys in there at the end who aren't exactly known for their shooting?

"Thomas was on the floor for inbounds passes, the guys who usually do that aren't available and he's been good at that and with Golden State switching up everything (on defense) we wanted Dre out there for his offensive rebounding. The ball found him and he stepped up and took the shot." 

The Warriors had left Roberson unguarded so they could harass Reggie Jackson and Anthony Morrow and the strategy worked. Jackson drove and dished to Roberson who was wide open out beyond the arc. Roberson missed his open look look and finished the night 1-for-4.

Jackson ended the game with 22 points but it took him 26 shots to get there. He grabbed 11 rebounds and handed out eight assists so he just missed a triple-double. Morrow came off the bench to score 16 on 5-for-11 shooting and Serge Ibaka also had 16, but Serge struggled shooting too, making just five of his 17 shots.

Overall the Thunder held the Warriors to 35.5 percent shooting but OKC managed to shoot only a tenth of a point better at 35.6 percent.  

The Thunder held the "Splash Brothers" to reasonable numbers, 20 points for Klay Thompson on 6-for-20 shooting and Steph Curry had 15 points on 5-for-15 shooting. 

The guy who killed them was Marreese Speights, who dropped a season-high 28 points on 11-for-18 shooting.

"Mo Speights was ridiculous, he carried the load for us offensively tonight," said Warriors coach Steve Kerr.  

The Thunder had hoped to keep their heads above water while Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook healed up from surgeries and their defense is good enough this team could be right around .500 if just a handful more shots had fallen. 

Now though, with the reality of 3-12 staring back at him Brooks admitted Sunday night he's started to think about just how deep a hole the Thunder can dig themselves out of when KD and Russ return. 

50 wins is usually what it takes to make the Western Conference playoffs, once in a while 47 or 48 might do it. To get to 50 the Thunder will have to go 47-20 the rest of the way and we still don't know for sure how many more games Durant and Westbrook will miss, plus when they do return it's doubtful they will play every game the rest of the way. 

So the margin for error is starting to get really skinny. 

Brooks, always the optimist, looks at it this way, "it sets us up for a heck of a ride, an amazing regular season run." 

A run that better start pretty soon. 

Brooks Knows Thunder Will Have Their Hands Full Tonight

By Randy Renner

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Defense has been the best part of the Thunder so far this season with superstar scorers sidelined and tonight the defense will have to be outstanding.

The Golden State Warriors are in town with the "Splash Brothers." Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are off to great starts. Curry is averaging 28.3 points on 48.4 percent shooting overall and 39.3 percent from three. Thompson is right behind at 22.6 points on 47.1 percent shooting overall and 44.6 percent from deep. The Warriors as a team are shooting  49.9 percent (1st in the NBA).

Thunder guards Reggie Jackson will be on Curry to start the game and Andre Roberson gets Thompson.

"We're gonna have to do a great job on defense against one of the best and deepest teams in the NBA," Thunder coach Scott Brook said a few minutes ago.

The Warriors have own four straight and haven't scored less than 100 points in five straight games.

Golden State is 9-2 coming in and is off to the franchise's best start since the 1972-73 season.

Offense isn't the only thing the Warriors have going their way this season. Unlike in past years when defense has been a problem, it's been a strength this season. The Warriors are holding opponents to just 41.5 percent shooting (2nd in the NBA).

"We're gonna have to have a good offensive game too," Brooks admitted. Those have been hard to come by for OKC. The Thunder are 2nd to last in scoring, averaging 88.9 points and 3rd from last in shooting (42.1 percent).

Brooks said "we're gonna have to do everything within our power to score points tonight," but the Thunder remain limited. Perry Jones, who's averaging more than 15 points a game is still out with that problematic bruised knee and of course Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook remain sidelined.

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Warriors coach Steve Kerr isn't surprised the Thunder have still managed to remain competitive in almost every game they've played. "They compete every night because that's the culture they've developed here over the years. Every game has been close because they play hard all the way through."

That will have to be the case again tonight, not only to stay competitive but to keep from being blown out.

As usual, our entire InsideThunder.com crew is here at The Peake and we'll have full post game video coverage with comments from Coach Brooks and from players inside the locker room. If you can't watch the game check out our feed page for comments on Twitter from reporters at the game.

It's Déjà Vu All Over Again For Thunder

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By Randy Renner

The Thunder are producing an ugly sequel to the hit Bill Murray movie "Groundhog Day" with Reggie Jackson in the starring role.

Our star keeps living the same day over and over again.

Jackson and his Thunder teammates again played great in the beginning, swooned in the second half, rallied late to get the game enticingly close and Reggie takes the shot that would win the game if only it would splash instead of clang.

Nets 94, Thunder 92.

Brooklyn snaps a five game losing streak, Oklahoma City extends a four game skid to five, the longest losing streak the franchise has had since the 2008-09 season.

Jackson sat at his locker with his head in his hands and ice wraps on both knees and his right ankle.

He stared into space, more than likely replaying those final shots of the last few games in his head.

The shame if it all is that Reggie had a pretty solid game overall, 21 points, eight assists. The problem came in the fourth quarter, nine points, but no assists. The ball stopped moving at critical times. 

The Thunder shot just 27.3 percent in the fourth quarter and handed out exactly one more assist as a team, than a dead man would and that killed their chances.

Head coach Scott Brooks continued to talk about how close this team is to winning games and he's right.

They are achingly close. They play hard, they show a lot of grit, they fight till the end but they just don't have enough to win. They get right there and can't close it out.

"I didn't like the outcome," Brooks said after the game, "but throughout this season we have demonstrated that we are more than capable of winning games. A couple of breaks go our way, a couple of shots drop and the game could have easily gone our way."

But it didn't and just as this horror show of an early season has shown, sometimes being close can be far more cruel than being far away. 

The Thunder now sit at 3-11 and in last place in the Western Conference. They could probably just as easily be 8-6 or 7-7 if they could catch a break or find some sort of way to get over the hump and close a game out.

Right now they're all searching for answers but not finding any. We asked Jeremy Lamb about that. What will it take to turn the corner and start winning some games?

He just stared at the locker room floor and said so quietly you could barely hear, "I have no idea."

Roberson Back In Starting Lineup

By Randy Renner

Thunder head coach Scott Brooks says shooting guard Andre Roberson will be back in the starting lineup tonight, replacing Jeremy Lamb.

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Roberson told reporters at shoot around today, "I'm not 100 percent, but nobody in the league is 100 percent." 

Roberson will play about 20 minutes tonight, that's up from just the seven minutes he played Wednesday night in Denver. 

Brooks also said injured superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will participate in portions of tomorrow's practice, "Kevin and Russell have both had good workouts the last couple of days." 

Brooks said both players will be re-evaluated by the Thunder's medical staff next week. 

The news isn't as good as far as forward Perry Jones is concerned. 

"He's not ready," Brooks said when asked about Jones. "I'm not sure when he's coming back." 

Jones has been out about three weeks with what the team is calling a bruised knee. 

Nets coach Lionel Hollins said former OSU star Markel Brown is getting better, "I like what he does, he's a really hard worker, Hollins said before the game tonight. But the Nets boss said Brown probably won't play meaningful minutes for a while, "there are a lot of guys in front of him," Hollins said. 

Check back after tonight's game for a complete video wrap up. 

KD & Russ Getting Shots Up At Shootaround

By Randy Renner

At this point (3-10, last place in the Western Conference) most Thunder fans are ready for any sort of encouraging words, even better an encouraging photo.

Here at InsideThunder.com we aim to please.

When reporters were allowed into the gym area of the INTEGRIS Thunder Development Center injured superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were out there on the floor putting up some shots. 

Westbrook worked on free throws and some mid-range jumpers and KD was firing shots up from long range, he hit several of them too.

It's believed Westbrook is still a couple of weeks away from being able to fully participate in practice and Durant is probably three weeks away at this point. 

But it is encouraging to see them out on the basketball court at practice and moving around better and putting up more shots than we've seen.

Shooting guard Andre Roberson is already back, he played the other night at Denver but his minutes are being limited.

"Feels great being back on the floor but playing limited minutes I'm just trying to get a feel for it, can't rush back into things," Roberson said. As far as those limited minutes are concerned, "I'm not sure how long they'll stay around, at least until I feel comfortable like I used to be."

Roberson admits he's not 100 percent, "but nobody in this league plays at 100 percent. But my foot feels great and I'm ready to go."

Roberson only played seven minutes in Denver and he may be up to 10-12 tonight against Brooklyn. Head coach Scott Brooks doesn't usually come over to talk with reporters after shootaround, preferring top wait until his pregame availability so we should find out more about Roberson's minutes and get a progress report on Perry Jones then. Jones is also expected back any day.

Perk Has More Words Of Wisdom

If there's one go to guy on the Thunder who you can always count on to give you some straight talk in any interview session it's got to be Kendrick Perkins and as usual Perk was interview gold when we chatted with him.

"When you got your top dogs out you almost gotta play perfect every possession so you can't have these five minute stretched where you just take time off and then teams go on them runs and you look up and you're down 13 points."

Perk was referring to the Thunder's two game road trip to the mountains and specifically the Utah game when the Thunder built a 17 point lead, then relaxed and all of a sudden it was gone. They played Denver pretty tough in the first half of that game then let down in the third quarter.

"You have every guy that plays have two possessions where have 'my faults' or 'my bads' that's too many possessions wasted throughout the game. With all the new guys in the lineup and your top dogs out, you can't afford that."

Perk can see the lapses out on the floor and he notices more subtle problems when he watches game tape whether it's a teammate or himself who needs to cleanup mistakes.

"You can't put it all on the coaching staff or Scotty, sometimes you gotta be accountable and sometimes it gotta come from within and gotta police ourselves."

With Brooklyn coming in on a five game losing streak and the Thunder coming in having lost four straight, someone's streak is going to end tonight and Perkins and his former Boston teammate and current Nets power forward Kevin Garnett, have already chatted.

"We talked a little noise last night on the phone, he was like 'we on one (losing streak) so they tryin to get a win and I said s--t I'm on one too, we tryin to get a win. So he's still my big homie but not right now though."

Thanks Perk, always appreciate you.

The Thunder and the Nets tipoff at 7 o'clock,if you can't make it down to The Peake tonight it'll be on Fox Sports Oklahoma and of course click back here for our full postgame coverage including interview sessions with Coach Brooks and players.