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Thunder practice Monday with a bit of agitation after Game 1 loss

By Royce Young | NBA writer
The Thunder need to shake off Game 1 in a hurry. (Getty Images)

SAN ANTONIO -- If you wanted to use a word to describe the Thunder's Monday morning practice, "agitated" would work well. Maybe "annoyed." Or even downright "angry."

Normally a bunch that crack jokes, talk loud and act like a group of 23-year-olds would, the Thunder were quiet, reserved and businesslike. As players made their rounds with the media, others sat with headphones on and waited. No jovial bursts of laughing or wise cracks. Russell Westbrook talked in three-word sentences. Kevin Durant clearly looked much more concerned with getting to the film room than talking to anybody. And Kendrick Perkins, well, Kendrick Perkins looks agitated and angry even when he's the happiest person alive.

It's to be expected that there's a little bit of a hangover though as the Thunder entered the fourth quarter of Game 1 with a nine-point lead but watched it melt away as baskets and stops came few and far between.

“I think last night we were kind of all over the place in the fourth quarter,” said James Harden. “That caused some turnovers and some easy transition points for them.”

Harden had an unusual Game 1 as he didn't shoot well, had two charges and didn't attempt a single free throw. In fact, that's the first time this entire season Harden hasn't attempted a free throw in a game. But here's a fun addendum to that: The last time OKC played the Spurs in the regular season, Harden went 0-1 from the line. For whatever reason, the Spurs know how to keep him off the stripe.

“I didn't go strong enough to the basket,” he said. “I didn't force them to make calls. I just got to be ready. Be ready to stay in attack mode, stay aggressive and get to the rim and get to the line.”

The Thunder often rely on Harden late in games to run the offense. He's a skilled creator and scorer, and probably the team's best point guard. But Harden struggled in Game 1 and so Scott Brooks and the Thunder altered course by force feeding the ball to Kevin Durant in isolation situations.

“I just tried to get the ball in my hands and make a play,” Durant said. “The Spurs do a good job of knowing your plays and trying to take you out of them, but we play random basketball, drive and kick basketball. Just try and make plays.”

Those plays didn't happen with much regularity in Game 1. And it left the Thunder with a bitter taste Monday morning.

The team began practice with an hour and a half long film session stressing a lot of positives, as well as critiquing that fourth quarter to pieces. The Spurs made quality adjustments in the way they defended OKC's pick-and-roll, mainly by enticing the ballhandler to attack the rim and Tim Duncan. The Thunder turned down midrange jumpers and attacked away, like you're told to do. But they couldn't finish around, over or through Duncan.

“We could get to the rim, we couldn't finish,” Durant said. “It's not like he was blocking all of our shots or contesting all of our shots. I missed a dunk, I missed a few layups, James missed a few, Russ missed a few. We're going to keep going at these guys, keep trying to get to the paint, keep trying to get to the free throw line.”

The Thunder came to San Antonio obviously looking for two wins but a split is the goal. They've already missed one chance at that. Time to bounce back, something they've been outstanding at this season, going 16-3 following a loss.

“We're all confident, we're all keeping our heads up," Durant said. "Of course [with a] Game 1 loss, we can't get too down on ourselves, but we just got to keep fighting.”

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