Kobe Bryant was asked Sunday, following his 15th consecutive All-Star Game, whether it will be difficult to flip on the switch again coming out of the league's annual break.
“My switch never went off,” he said. “It was on all weekend.”
Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant might not be able to say the same.
Judging by how Oklahoma City sputtered into All-Star 2013, it's hard to not think the Thunder turned it off sometime ago. Now, with the season in the home stretch, the Thunder seems to be in a position of needing to relocate its proverbial switch before flicking it back on.
Oklahoma City went just 8-6 in the final 14 games before the All-Star break. The Thunder allowed 100.9 points per game in those 14 contests. Worse, in the nine road games in that stretch the Thunder allowed 103.2 points per game and yielded 45 percent shooting. That last bit could be a cause for concern considering 15 of the team's final 29 games will be played on the road, mostly against playoff-contending teams.
Hardly anyone seemed able to explain exactly what went wrong in the weeks leading up to the All-Star break. A bevy of road games and playing better competition didn't help. But not even those challenges can excuse some of the shocking shows of defense and stretches of stagnant offense we saw.
“Hopefully we get some rest and come back rejuvenated,” said Durant.
At 39-14, the Thunder still owns the league's second-best record and remains on pace for a 60-win season, which would be its first in the franchise's Oklahoma City era.
When the Thunder has been at its best this season, the offense has been a thing of beauty. Ball movement has led to balanced attacks and has enabled the Thunder to become both the league's highest scoring team and the most efficient offensively for the better part of the year.