The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

December 17, 2012

General health, strong bench could give OKC an edge

By Michael Kinney
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN, Okla. — The numbers say when Oklahoma City (19-4) and San Antonio (19-6) face-off at 7 p.m. today at the Chesapeake Energy Arena, it will be a battle of two almost identical teams. 

The Thunder are averaging 105.7 points per game while the Spurs are a notch below at 104.8. San Antonio is holding its opponents to 97 points a night. OKC is at 96.4.

Both have all-time great forwards in Kevin Durant and Tim Duncan and stellar point guards in Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook.

However, where Oklahoma may have the advantage is being injury free and its bench. While the Spurs could be without two or three key players tonight, the Thunder enter the matchup healthy.

In the past, it has been the Spurs who have had the superior bench. But this year, even with the loss of Sixth Man of the Year James Harden, Oklahoma City's second unit of Nick Collison, Eric Maynor, Kevin Martin and Hasheem Thabeet, has found a way to improve in almost every category.

Coach Scott Brooks has put his best player on the court more and more with the second team and it has turned into a weapon for the Thunder.

"Biggest thing is having KD in that unit," coach Scott Brooks said. "He's a good guy to have in the second group. We've changed our rotations up a little bit and it's worked. Guys are still learning how each other fits in. I think that second unit has been much better. Once I put Kevin in that unit, we've kind of stuck with that."

The Thunder go for their 11th win in a row tonight, which the franchise hasn’t done since Nov. 1996 when it was still in Seattle.