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. Oklahoma City also has lost twice down the stretch against the Lakers and once at Sacramento. But those endings become mind-boggling when the Thunder shows it is capable of closing out an opponent, like it impressively did at San Antonio, at Phoenix, at the Los Angeles Clippers and at home against Utah. Evidence of the evolution was seen in the final seconds of regulation, when Westbrook nailed a similar mid-range shot to the one that rimmed out in overtime. Unlike last week’s game against the Hornets, Westbrook improvised when the defense denied Durant the ball. He attacked the basket then pulled up over the outstretched arms of Jefferson to send the game into overtime tied at 99-all. But after the Thunder battled back from a 19-point deficit, buried a game-tying jumper and withstood the Spurs bullying it on the boards, one overtime possession revealed the difference between how San Antonio wins these games and the Thunder continues searching for its way. Manu Ginobili, who scored two points in a terrible shooting display, lost the ball on a drive to the basket. He chased down and recovered the rock, saved it from going out of bounds by finding teammate George Hill, who swung it to Jefferson for the game-winner. "He was 0-for-10 and he made the biggest play of the game,” Brooks said. "He basically won the game for them.” The Thunder can only learn from his hustle and hope that one day the process arrives at more rewarding results. "It’s making us better and teaching us what we need to do in those situations,” said Kevin Durant.