With Monday night's 114-96 victory over the Phoenix Suns at Chesapeake Energy Arena, the Thunder is now 5-0 in games played on New Year's Eve, and it was a Dec. 31 contest when the franchise began to morph into one of the NBA's top franchises.
OKC was 3-29 (.094) on Dec. 31, 2008, and on a record-setting pace to beat out the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers for the worst season in NBA history at 9-73 (.110).
The Thunder stopped its hemorrhaging that night with a 107-100 victory over the Golden State Warriors while using a starting lineup that featured Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook — both 20 years old — plus Desmond Mason, Jeff Green and a 7-foot tattoo billboard named Robert Swift.
Beginning with that victory over the Warriors, the Thunder closed out the 2008-09 season with a 20-30 mark finish at 23-59. A franchise that was winning 9.4 percent of its games heading into New Year's Eve closed the season by winning 40 percent of its starts.
Starting with the 2009-10 season, only San Antonio (186-77) has a better record than OKC (176-84).
“Yes, that was a big win for me,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks, who was 2-17 as interim coach after replacing P.J. Carlesimo following a 1-12 to the relocated franchise. “That's when everything kind of turned for us for the better after that rough start.”
Durant said he remembers “just about every game I've played in” and shook his head while recalling the 3-29 start.
Looking for a place to knock on wood, a superstitious Durant playfully knocked on the wall behind him when reminded the Thunder was unbeaten on New Year's Eve.
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