By Randy Renner, Senior Writer
The Lakers, Kings and Nuggets, not exactly a trio that strikes fear in the hearts of most NBA teams and not a trio the Thunder have struggled with in recent seasons either.
But at this point in this season of change for OKC the Thunder seem to be struggling with most everyone including themselves.
It really shouldn’t be a surprise since the Thunder are still trying to get used to playing without longtime staples Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka while trying to blend in newcomers Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis and Joffrey Lauvergne.
The surprise came with Oklahoma City’s 6-1 start. The winning bottom line masked some problems which have since come into full view.
The Thunder have gone 2-7 since that 6-1 start and with consecutive losses to the Lakers and Kings sit at 8-8 going into Friday night’s game in Denver.
The loss to the Lakers was tough to take after the Thunder rallied from 14 points down to take a one point lead only to have Nick Young snatch a pass intended for a teammate, take five steps without hearing a whistle from any of the three officials and then swishing a 3-pointer that provided the winning margin.
The NBA has since announced traveling should have been called but that doesn’t change the final score, it only adds to the frustration.
Last night in Sacramento the Thunder avoided another first quarter failure but couldn’t stop DeMarcus Cousins from dominating inside and also had more problems defending the 3-point line leading to a 116-101 loss, the team’s third straight defeat.
Oh and the Thunder struggled shooting the ball too making just 42.1 percent of their shots overall and 28.0 percent from deep.
Like most of these games, the Thunder had stretches where they played very well, but also committed critical mistakes that seemed to short circuit rallies.
“We were playing well in that first quarter but to start the second quarter we turned the ball over four out of five possessions to start it and they got up by seven or eight when it was a two-point game,” Donovan told reporters after the game. “Those things add up.”
They do indeed and what they’ve added to so far is a team still searching for its identity and still searching for some dependable late game options other than superstar Russell Westbrook.
Westbrook almost had another triple-double last night with 31 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.
“We’ll figure it out,” he said. “We just have to be ready to play. Very plain and simple.”