We’ve reached the point in the program where we’re left with no choice but to ask the question, the only inquiry seemingly on the minds of patient but probing patrons that file out of the Ford Center pooped and perplexed at how yet another late-game decision doomed the home team.
At what point in the proverbial process does the Oklahoma City Thunder consistently close out close games?
The crunch-time challenge cost the Thunder again Wednesday night, this time against San Antonio in a thrilling albeit tormenting 109-108 overtime loss before an announced crowd of 17,886.
By the final horn, the sight of stunned Thunder players slowly stepping off the court evoked memories of the many outcomes that burned Oklahoma City in the same fashion. The lone difference on this night was that the improvement was clear for everyone to see, even after the customary conclusion.
Russell Westbrook missed a 19-foot jumper from the right wing as time expired on a resilient Thunder squad and dropped Oklahoma City to 21-17. The Thunder trailed by as many as 19 points and walked into halftime down 12 against a Spurs team playing without injured star Tim Duncan and key role players Matt Bonner and Michael Finley.
Richard Jefferson buried the game-winner, a driving 13-footer, on a broken play that broke the Thunder’s back.
"We just have to keep battling, keep fighting and figuring out ways to win these close games,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "We’ve won our share of close games on the road, and we’ve won a few at home. I’m proud of our guys’ effort. We just had a bad start, and we had trouble overcoming it.”
You can consider the Thunder is 4-5 in games that come down to the final minutes. OKC lost in similar fashion a week ago against New Orleans, when the Hornets hounded the Thunder into a desperation last-second heave that had no shot. Before that, the Thunder opened 2010 with an overtime loss at Milwaukee, where poor defense and paltry offense proved to be the problem.