Losing for a fourth straight time, the Oklahoma City Thunder, following a crushing 113-88 home defeat against the San Antonio Spurs, are out of the final playoff spot and no longer hold their destiny in their own hands.
The Spurs held the Thunder scoreless for nearly three minutes after the tip off and limited them to just 10 points and 4-of-21 from the field in the first quarter. Kawhi Leonard has been merciless over the last few weeks, leading the defending champions, who were missing Tiago Splitter, with 26 points on 10-of-15 from the field and 4-for-4 from beyond the arc. It was the 8th consecutive win for the Spurs, who at the moment are sixth in the West, which means a playoff series with the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Thunder gave up pretty quickly on this game; Russell Westbrook played just 26 minutes, in which he scored 17 points and had a season high six steals. The Thunder have lost six of their last seven games and the season seems to slip away from them. Not just because of the missing players, but also because it’s all been about riding Westbrook who seems tired from his impressive efforts, not wanting to share the load with anyone, and the inability to develop a system that’s about more than just one player.
When this season ends, it won’t matter if the Thunder won’t make the playoffs because of injuries, sloppy play or bad coaching. Sadly, there’s always a bottom line which is oblivious to the smaller details and finer points. It’ll say that the Thunder missed the playoffs or simply another year went by without this talented group not winning the NBA title.
They even have Gregg Popovich feeling sorry for them. No matter how you slice it, it’s not a fair fight. Nobody’s going to give back the win. We’re going to take the win. I thought we played well, but you feel badly. You see Kevin in that chair out there and the other guys that are hurt, and it’s not a fair fight.
The Thunder themselves? They’ve never been the talkative bunch, and it doesn’t seem like this current string of losses is bringing out some creativity out of them in front of the microphone. We have to stay together, believe in ourselves, regroup and come back focused. We have to be locked in. These next four games are very important for us, and everybody has to be on the same page. They came at us and we weren’t ready for it. We’ve got another game on Friday, and we’ve got to get ready for that one.