When discussing Monday night's loss against the Los Angeles Clippers, those associated with the Thunder at one point uttered the same thing almost verbatim.
“We had a bad game. It happens.”
The 112-100 loss at Staples Center indeed was a bad game for OKC. There were times it was an extremely bad game.
However, the Thunder is extremely good at making sure one bad game does not become two. OKC's record after a loss the last two seasons is 22-7, a mark surpassed only by Chicago's 21-4.
Resiliency has not been a problem for the Thunder and it's no time to start, with a nationally televised (ESPN) 7 p.m. game Wednesday at Dallas (14-8) and a five-game road trip commencing Saturday at San Antonio.
With four straight games against playoff teams from a year ago – not including the revamped Clippers – the degree of difficulty has just gone up for OKC, which entered Monday's game with the NBA's best record.
The Thunder (16-4) still has the best record, but is on the cusp of losing a second straight game to a Western Conference team that could actually be better, no matter what the overall standings say.
If OKC is about to surpass the world champion Mavericks in the West, there's no time like the present to prove it.
The Thunder needs to beat the Mavs when it matters, like Wednesday night. Not in a preseason sweep against a shell of a team. No 28-foot bombs at the final buzzer from Superman Kevin Durant should be required.
Nothing would send a message quite like beating the champs on their own floor, but the last time OKC played at American Airlines Center, it got whipped 100-87.
After watching the Thunder get humbled on Monday, many Western teams have a shot of adrenaline.
The new-look Clippers were downright giddy with how well things went Monday, and with good reason. Keep playing like that and they might only lose about a half-dozen more games this season and become the class of the West.
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