Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Thunder... well, they lost again - let's just leave it at that
It's not that the team is losing. We knew that would happen. It's the way the team is losing. You often don't see a team regress, but honestly, I don't think anyone can say that this team is better today than it was four weeks ago. I understand youth and inexperience. But I also understand bad basketball.
Just like most other nights, there was a fun half - whether it be the first or the second - where Oklahoma City (1-11) plays with some gusto and like they actually can. The Clippers (2-9) couldn't hit shots, couldn't rebound and couldn't play defense in the first half. They... reminded me of someone. But then in the second, the two teams switched roles. Los Angeles started hitting shots, forcing turnovers and playing defense. The Thunder countered by throwing the ball away like it was a piece of trash, missing open looks and playing poo-poo defense.
And while OKC was outscored 59-36 in the second half, this game was really given away in the last five minutes of the first half. The Thunder had built a nice 15 point lead. They were playing loose, hitting shots, having fun. The Ford Center was ballistic. Russell Westbrook had a sweet open-court slam. Kevin Durant soon followed with an awesome rim-rocker. Everything was wonderful.
And then it was like the entire team looked up at the scoreboard, saw the 15 point cushion and collectively thought, "Oh crap! Look at us! What the eff do we do? Can we just stop playing now?" Because the Clips promptly went on a 12-0 run to make it 52-49 going into the break.
What do you even second guess tonight? I'm looking at my first half notes and I'm seeing stuff like, "Jeff Green is playing really good again. I love his jumper right now. He gets his body so square and his hands are perfect on the release," or "Man, what a difference Chris Wilcox makes! He's totally changed us on the defensive end," or "The Clippers look like they have no confidence; I think they're giving up." Kind of funny now.
I'll tell you, rumor has it the Clips are shopping Chris Kaman and his huge $40 million contract and you know who I think should make a deal and take it? Yeah, you know who. Kaman is like everything Robert Swift (or Thunder fans for that matter) wishes he was. A subtle scorer and solid rebounder that is deadly in the post and finds ways to squirm free for an open dunk. We'll take him. Please.
Typically, I'm Mr. Positive and I'll look for encouraging things to take away from a game. But I really just don't feel like it tonight. I expected OKC to win this game (and I think the team did too) and they didn't. Now I don't know when they will. Busting out of a losing streak is tough, because the hardest thing about it is the mental anguish it puts on you. You just feel like it will never happen and you're just waiting for something else to go wrong. Even when you're up 15 (like tonight) you start feeling that little tingle in your body like, "Oh, could we break out of it tonight? Rats, there's still two quarters to go. I hope it happens though! But I bet we screw it up."
Well, I will say one positive thing and that is Russell Westbrook got 30 minutes tonight. Clearly Coach Peej is slowly working his minutes up, which I'm happy about.
To summarize, a complete two and a third quarter collapse. The team fell flat on its face. What happened? Well, 19 turnovers happened including four consecutive ones in the third quarter. A complete inability to rebound (the Clips had 14 offensive boards) and an overall lack of focus for the entire second half. Tonight was bad. Nothing much else to say.
The Thunder gets Oklahoma City's first born, the Hornets Friday night. Should be a special night, until the Thunder starts bouncing the ball. (Ok, negativity over. I just had to get it out.) As we all know, going through these horrible, horrible growing pains will make it that much sweeter when we turn this thing around. Right now! (Cue Eddie Van Halen solo...)