28 February 2011
The Oklahoma City Thunder lost another tough game yesterday to the Los Angeles Lakers. But this is not about the Lakers. It is about the fact that the Thunder have dropped three straight games for the first time this season. They are still a bit shorthanded without Kendrick Perkins, who will not make his team debut for another couple of weeks, but Scott Brooks and his players will be the first to tell you that they are not making any excuses.
The bottom line is that they need to play better. They need to play better defensively as well as more consistent offensively. Until that happens, this team will not be able to beat the upper echelon teams. They will be able to compete, but not defeat.
Granted, when Perkins joins the lineup, the defense will immediately improve. To gain that much needed size will be crucial to the team's success. Of course, they will need him to remain healthy and on the floor. But he will be able to defend big bodied scorers such as Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Zach Randolph and Dirk Nowitzki.
Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic were not quite as adept at stopping bigger opposition.
But the team has still suffered their first three game losing streak of the season. It is not necassarily time to panic, because two of those three losses were by less than five points, and all three were against top teams.
Yet while it may not be time to panic, that doesn't mean that we shouldn't be at least mildly concerned.
The second half continues to be an area of concern for the Thunder, and things were no different yesterday. Kevin Durant finished 4-13 from the field in the second half, while Russell Westbrook missed five of his six shots and turned the ball over 4 times (7 in all). They are still young, and are still figuring out how to close out solid opponents.
But that will come in time. The Thunder will also need to figure out how to play together following their deadline deals. It is never easy, but it happens as the season progresses.
We just have to patient.
At least, to a certain degree.
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