With 2:50 remaining in the third quarter Wednesday night, Thunder fans no longer could contain their frustration. So they did the unthinkable. They booed.
For two full seasons while hosting the displaced Hornets, local NBA fans never booed the home team. With the Los Angeles Clippers in the midst of a 42-12 run that required less than 12 minutes, Thunder fans broke their silence when coach P.J. Carlesimo called for a timeout. There were more groans than boos, but undeniably, there were boos. Philly fans boo Santa Claus, but Oklahoma City pro basketball fans don’t boo anything that’s theirs. Until Wednesday. The Clippers went on to post a 108-88 victory before a crowd of 18,312 at the Ford Center, handing the 1-11 Thunder its ninth straight loss. Upon his arrival in Oklahoma City, Carlesimo was told of the city’s boo-free zone. Carlesimo said he hoped the trend continued but would understand if Thunder fans booed when his team’s play warranted it. Against the Clippers, it was warranted. The Thunder led by 15 points with 2½-minutes left in the second quarter, and trailed by 15 with 2:50 left in the third. Afterward, Carlesimo tried to respond to questions that have no good answers. "Nobody feels worse than all our people," Carlesimo said. Not even the most prolific get-well card in NBA history could cure what ails the Thunder. The Clippers entered the game with a 1-9 record, though they’re much better than that with a roster consisting of Baron Davis, Marcus Camby, Cuttino Mobley and Chris Kaman. Before Wednesday’s game, Carlesimo wished the Clippers would struggle for at least one more contest, and they obliged at first. Then the Clippers found their rhythm. Doesn’t everyone against the Thunder? The Thunder knows pain and suffering, but the Clippers perfected it. It was 1978 when the Buffalo Braves became the San Diego Clippers. Since then, there has been no more feeble franchise in the NBA. Four playoff appearances in 30 years, with three first-round exits. Five times the Clippers have finished in the teens for total victories in a season. One time, they didn’t even get to the teens (12-70 in 1986-87). Another time, they failed to reach double-digits (9-41 in the strike-shortened 1998-99 season). The Thunder has a long ways to go to catch the Clippers. Former Oklahoma State standout Desmond Mason was with the Hornets during their stay in Oklahoma City and has said the best thing about playing ball here is you don’t get booed, no matter how tough the going gets. All that ended Wednesday. "I think the fans were a little upset we kept turning the ball over," said Mason, who was in street clothes due to a sprained right elbow. The booing was short-lived, however. When the Thunder walked toward their locker room after the game, they were showered with a smattering of applause from fans waiting at the tunnel. "Even after a game like that, they told us to keep our heads up, to keep playing," Mason said.