The first week of the new year has not treated the Oklahoma City Thunder well. After starting the season 5-0 they have now dropped back-to-back games, something they did only five times all of last season.
Kevin Durant, who started the season scoring at least 30 points in each of his teams first four games, has struggled in two of the past three games.
On Saturday (Dec. 31) Durant scored just 12 points, on 4-11 shooting, but his team had his back, led by point guard Russell Westbrook who had 18. He was one of six players to reach double figures for the Thunder. Along with Durant, guards Thabo Sefolosha and Daequan Cook each had 12, including 4-5 from beyond the arc from Cook. Forward Nick Collins had 11 points, while shooting guard James Harden had 10 points and eight assists. Oklahoma City defeated the Phoenix Suns by a score of 107-97.
On Monday (Jan. 2) the Thunder were handed their first loss of the season by the defending NBA Champions, Dallas Mavericks. This was the two teams second meeting in four days. Durant hit a game-winning fade away three pointer as time expired in their first meeting, but this was a different story on Monday.
The Mavericks, who were 1-4 entering Monday nights contest, were not about to allow this up and coming team get the best of them again. They forced the lone remaining unbeaten team to miss a lot of shots. They shot just 31-77 (40 %) including a dismal 5-19 (26%) from behind the arc. Durant (27), Westbrook (18), and Harden (16) led the way for OKC, but got only 26 points from the rest of the team. Serge Ibaka added 10. Dallas was led by reigning Finals MVP, Dirk Nowitzki, who had 26 points.
The Thunder had no time to rest as they went back to the hardwood the very next night, falling to the Portland Trailblazers 103-93. Oklahoma City’s poor shooting carried over to this game as Portland forced them to shoot just 34 percent from the field. Durant and Westbrook both struggled in the game. Durant scored 19 points on 8-26 shooting, while Westbrook scored 22 on 8-18 shooting.Harden led the Thunder (5-2) with 23 points.
Portland, who now has the Western Conference’s best record after the win, had balanced scoring led by LaMarcus Aldridge’s 30 points. Wesley Matthews had 16 while Gerald Wallace had a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds. Raymond Felton and Nicolas Batum each had 12.
The Thunder should have nothing to worry about, as every team, whether it be an 82-game season or a 66-game season, will lost a couple, if not more, game sin a row. It will be more common this season as teams will play three nights in a row on some occasions, or four games in five nights.
The Thunder have a tough task ahead of them as they will play three straight games Friday, January 6 through January 8. All those games will be apart of a five game in 6 day stretch. They have two match ups with the Houston Rockets (Jan. 6 & 7), then meetings with the San Antonio Spurs (Jan. 8), Memphis Grizzlies (Jan. 10), and the New Orleans Hornets (Jan. 11). The Thunder should be able to win at least four of the five games, but it will all depend on how well they shoot and how fatigued they will be.
About the Author
Written by Eddie McDonald
I am a junior at Clarion University. I come from a small town. I played high school basketball and baseball. I love sports and being able to write and voice my opinion on sports.