I’ve always loved Scott Brooks, or as my brothers and friends used to call him growing up in Houston: Scottie Brooks.
And now I have even more of a reason to love Scottie, as coach Brooks aims to lead his Oklahoma City Thunder to a round one upset of Kobe Bryant and the overrated, highly egotistical LA Lakers.
Thankfully, the Thunder stole game three from the Lakers as Brooks and Oklahoma City have made it a series again as they aim to tie it up tonight.
“It feels good to finally get a win in this series against the reining champs,” Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant told NBA.com writer Randy Renner. “I probably only guarded Kobe [Bryant] 10 or 11 possessions in the regular season but [Thunder assistant] coach Ron Adams told me it was my turn so I just wanted to play my hardest. It’s a chance to make me better, guarding the best player in the world.”
In addition, Brooks was recently named the NBA’s Coach of the Year.
“I know this singles out me as the coach of the team but I truly believe that this is an Oklahoma City Thunder team award,” Brooks told Thunder.NBA.com writer Chris Silva. “Most importantly I thank the players. We all know the success that you have as a team is predicated on the commitment you have in players and we have 15 guys who are strongly committed to each other strongly and want to improve every day. I’m thankful for them.”
Here are five reasons why coach Brooks and his Thunder team should be extremely ecstatic heading into Game Four against the hated Lakers…
With a win in Game Four, Kevin Durant and his Oklahoma City teammates can tie up the series with Kobe Bryant and LA.
Thankfully, at least for head coach Scott Brooks and the Thunder, Oklahoma City will be hosting the LA Lakers this evening at home.
“The crowd was phenomenal, I couldn’t hear myself there at the end of the third quarter,” Durant told NBA.com writer Randy Renner. “They kept us in the game. It was a great atmosphere out there.”
Even NBA Commissioner David Stern was on hand and happy to see the excitement and anticipation surrounding the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“It’s fun to come in when we came in because it’s sort of like a beehive or an ant hill because the fans of Oklahoma City are pouring into this palace and what struck me was that enthusiasm and the outdoor event,” David Stern told Thunder.NBA.com writer Chris Silva. “…To walk in here and see what has been done and to realize it’s only part of it and there’s more to come, it’s pretty exciting and I’m pleased that the team and the NBA are justifying the faith that the community has in it, so that’s a good thing for us.”
Kevin Durant was a major factor in the Thunder’s game three win over the Lakers; and he’ll have to be a giant force again in game four if Oklahoma City hopes to even up the series with Kobe Bryant and LA.
“I thought this was a must-win tonight,” Durant told NBA.com writer Randy Renner following the Thunder’s game three victory, “and now we need to get another one to even it up.”
After giving the victory a day or so to soak in, Durant spoke with reporters again on Friday following a team practice.
“We’re focused, locked in and prepared,” Durant told Thunder.NBA.com writer Chris Silva. “I think shoot-arounds and our meetings we really emphasized things we need to do from game to game. I think we’ve done a good job of listening.
“Of course we’re not going to be perfect in those things but we’re trying our hardest and our coaches recognize that. They do a great job of coming up with schemes to help us on the defensive and it’s all about us executing on the offensive end.”
For Oklahoma City head coach Scott Brooks and his staff, they are just happy to see the team executing defensively while their star continues to thrive.
“He’s [Durant’s] done a good job the first two games of drawing contact and getting us up in the air,” Brooks told Silva on Saturday. “We’ve been working on that and actually we worked on that before the series started. We’re very disciplined in our defense.”
Thunder head coach Scott Brooks is an integral part to Oklahoma City suddenly becoming contenders in a highly-competitive Western Conference.
And with a win now under his belt, it’s time to look ahead to a Game Four matchup against the reining NBA Champions.
“It was so loud, it was an emotional start to the game,” Brooks told NBA.com writer Randy Renner following the Thunder’s game three win over the Lakers.
Defense, as always, will be a key to Oklahoma City winning again; and coach Brooks can’t wait to get back on the hardwood and back up a solid game three outing.
“We’re definitely not going to become passive,” Brooks told Thunder.NBA.com writer Chris Silva. “We’re going to attack the ball and go after the ball and defend the ball as best as we can. Will we have 17 blocks? Probably not, but we’re going to be aggressive for 48 minutes.”
As spoken about by Oklahoma City coaches and teammates time and time again, defense wins game, defense limits Kobe Bryant, and defense gets you past the highly-touted LA Lakers in a Round One matchup.
And defense will again be the focal point of tonight’s game when the Thunder host game four.
“We kept our composure,” Oklahoma City forward Jeff Green told NBA.com writer Randy Renner. “We just kept doing what got us to this point and that was defense.”
Head coach Scott Brooks concurs.
“You know this time of the year you have to defend and you can’t give up easy baskets,” Brooks told Thunder.NBA.com writer Chris Silva. “In two games, I didn’t think we could play much better defensively the first game but we did the second game and I don’t doubt our guys. Our guys are competitors. They’re hungry.”
Hopefully, the Thunder will bring their core appetite to a game four feast on Kobe Bryant and the hated Lakers as Brooks and company aim to knot up the series.
“We’re trying to cut the paint off as much as we can,” Brooks told Silva on Saturday. “Their [the LA Lakers’] length and their size and their toughness down low gives a lot of teams problems but we’ve done a good job of clogging up the middle and getting them to pass out.
“We’re going to stay with that. It’s what we’ve done most of the year well. In order for us to stay competitive in this series we can’t let their bigs have their way with us.”
Basketball is a team sport, and it takes more than just Kevin Durant for the Oklahoma City Thunder to win ball games.
Head coach Scott Brooks knows that all too well, having been a vital part of the Houston Rockets’ bench during their ride to the NBA title in 1994.
“We have a group of guys who believe in each other, that want to get each other better and they don’t want to disappoint each other,” Brooks told Thunder.NBA.com writer Chris Silva. “You don’t want to be the liability on the defensive end because the next day your teammates will probably tell you about it and your coaches will definitely tell you about it.”
The Thunder also did a good job of controlling the tempo in game three, committing just nine turnovers in Game Three; they hope to duplicate that effort tonight.
“Our flow has been pretty good,” Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook told Silva on Saturday. “Honestly, I just think we weren’t making too many shots and I think that was a big thing. I think there’s been more flow and it’s going to be a big thing for us to continue shooting the ball and making those shots.”
Regardless of the outcome of game four, this series will absolutely he heading back to LA; the hope (and plan) is to tie the series up and force Bryant and the Lakers to truly fight their way through this Western Conference Playoffs.
And, for Brooks’ sake and Oklahoma City’s as well, it would be oh so sweet if the Thunder could steal the show with a Round One upset of the reining NBA champions…
Denton Ramsey may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org