Russell Westbrook reacts after the Thunder dedicated a turnover in a loss to the Sacramento Kings.(Photo: Cary Edmondson, USA TODAY Sports)
SACRAMENTO — Of all of the creeds that stand the check of time within the NBA, the one about not panicking in November holds up in addition to any.
Slow begins occur. Chemistry takes time to take maintain. It’s an 82-game marathon, not a dash. And so the tropes go.
But when the Oklahoma City Thunder fell to the lowly Sacramento Kings, 94-86, on Tuesday night time on the Golden 1 Center, their sixth loss in 10 common season tries a lot uglier than any that had come earlier than, it spoke volumes that resident reigning MVP Russell Westbrook felt compelled to announce afterward that concern was not creeping in.
“I’m not worried,” mentioned Westbrook, who missed 14 of 21 pictures and had seven turnovers but — in some way, someway — wasn’t even near the worst Thunder participant on this night time. “I love nights like this. It does nothing but bring you closer — as a unit, as brothers. I’m encouraged by the group of guys we have in that room, and I will be better. Like I said before, I take ownership of how we’re playing, and I will be better. We will be better, so I’m not worried.”
Chances are, he’s proper. There’s merely no means they’ll be this dangerous frequently — so dangerous that their already-mediocre offensive exhibiting this season hit a humbling new low as they fell to 22nd in offensive score (the Westbrook-led 2016-17 Oklahoma City squad, for what it’s price, was 17th — and that was earlier than the Thunder had their lightning-in-a-bottle summer season).
When you add a four-time All-Star like Paul George and a 10-time All-Star like Carmelo Anthony within the span of 1 offseason, then the scope of the scrutiny inevitably adjustments. Golden State Warriors be darned, a championship — one which may compel George to re-sign in free company in July — is the plain purpose right here. And whereas the cohesion and dominance didn’t must occur straight away, these types of struggles had been predicted by, properly, nobody.
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To wit: Westbrook, George and Anthony mixed to overlook 39 of 54 pictures in opposition to a Kings protection that entered play with the league’s third-worst defensive score and which was 22nd in opponent’s field-goal share (46.three; the Thunder shot 33.7% total). The Kings, who entered on a seven-game dropping streak and received regardless of trailing 25-10 after the primary quarter, held the Thunder to a mixed 32 factors within the second and third quarters.
“We’ve got to do a better job of player movement so we don’t get stagnant and it continues to just load up on us,” mentioned George, who had 12 factors on 4 of 16 taking pictures. “It’s another step of adversity — another jab of adversity. We have to understand at this point, teams for the most part are going to play loose and just care free out there because it’s us — it’s the Thunder. We’re a team that’s supposed to win so a lot of pressure’s not on them. And that was the case tonight.”
“We have a whole year to figure it out. We can’t really try to rush this. It’s something that’s step-by-step, day-by-day, (and) at this point game-by-game. We’ve got to slowly get on the same page. It sucks to drop games like this … but this is not when we want to be playing our best basketball.”
A proficient Denver workforce looms on Thursday night time, the final of the Thunder’s three-game highway journey. Thunder concern, or lack thereof, shall begin then.
“If anything, I think we’re trying to figure out who’s gonna do it; we’re being a little but too unselfish,” Anthony, who shot 4 of 17 from the sphere and was a team-worst minus-21, mentioned of their star trio. “Yeah, we’re going the other way rather than just coming together, figuring it out. But that comes with … this journey, this process. This is all new to everybody, new situations for everybody. Even though (we’re) losing games, I think it’s more of lessons being learned than actually losing the game. So right now, we’re learning a lesson in these last couple games.”
Follow Sam Amick on Twitter @sam_amick.
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