Saturday, December 13, 2008

Thunder falters down the stretch in Dallas

Two crucial, vital, make-or-break possessions. Two Thunder pull-your-hair-out, yell-at-the-TV turnovers.

How frustrating for Saturday's 103-99 loss to the Dallas Mavericks to end in such a sloppy way for Oklahoma City after playing arguably its best all-around game of the season. Down two 99-97 with the ball, OKC marched up the court with under 30 seconds remaining and a chance to tie or take the lead. But Jeff Green - who was stellar - tried to force the ball to the post to Kevin Durant - who was also stellar - and the pass sailed wide out of bounds.

Then after two Dallas free throws and down four, Damien Wilkins - who had a solid game - lost control of the ball virtually sealing OKC's fate.

And while this goes down as No. 22 in a rapidly expanding string of losses, this one looked good. On the road against an above average West opponent and you lead for most of the game, stretch a lead to nine at one point late and have a chance to win. It's not the "We can build on this" game, but there's no reason to complain. The Thunder played hard for 48, executed all night, rebounded, defended and hit shots. This was a fun game to watch, even with the unfavorable result.

OKC spread the scoring as Green tied a season-high with 25, Durant had 22 and Russell Westbrook clocked another excellent game netting 19, but also had six assists and eight rebounds. As Brian Davis loves to say - over and over and over - that's a glimpse of the Thunder's future. If those three can turn in that type of performance on a consistent basis and you add in two or three role players, this is a contending team. That's a big "if" because all three are under the age of 23, but that's also encouraging because they sky is the limit for them.

But how about Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry. Those two combined for 74 of the Mavs 103 points (Nowitzki 46, Terry 28). And at times, Dirk was literally unstoppable. There was no one to guard him. Green wasn't long enough to alter his shot and while Durant had the length, he didn't have the strength. That was quite a show from that duo. The next highest point total was eight from Jason Kidd.

Make fun all you want but this was just a good basketball game that OKC came up short in. The Mavs are the better team but the Thunder hung around because of great effort and better execution. It will be tough to match the energy and intensity tomorrow night in San Antonio, but this game was a tiny, baby-step forward. I know it's a loss but considering how the previous game went down (loss at home to Memphis after leading by 21), I'll take it.

And yay for Sam Bradford. Heisman winner No. 5 for Football U. Now on to winning the next trophy.


Anonymous said...

Darn we lost again. But we are getting much better at losing. We really are top notch losers in Oklahoma City. But the rest of the world already knows that.

Steve H is a D-Bag said...

Looks like the Thunder really has made OKC a big league city! Less people hate you now.

I have never seen a state with such an inferiority complex. I think I would laugh my balls off if I ever saw an article in the Seattle Times that bragged about a nationwide poll that said 35% of the nation views WA as a "good" state!

Anonymous said...

I just had trouble giving away my tickets, they have been on craigslist for over 3 weeks with no takers (at 1/4th of the price).

I'm going to eat my thunder tickets this season but next year I'm not renewing. The only tickets I'll own will be my OU tickets. Sorry fans but Clay is not going to make a fool out of me next season.

Anonymous said...

Looking sharp in San Antonio tonight. 2-23.

Anonymous said...

I didn't buy tickets. There were so many free tickets available when the Hornets were here that I thought I should roll the dice and see if the same thing would happen. I feel bad for you guys who bought tickets and the hype. Free Thunder tickets are easy to get.

Anonymous said...

Who do the Thunder lose to next?

Anonymous said...

I won't be buying tickets next season. Several of us at work can't find people to go with us or take them off our hands. I'd say interest in the NBA is pretty low right now in OKC and that surprises me because this summer people seemed like they were more interested.