Scott Brooks walked into the Thunder’s locker room following his team’s 112-102 loss to the Golden State Warriors and delivered a simple message Oklahoma City fans can only hope rings loud and clear.
"He said when you don’t play the game right and you mess around with the game, the game will mess around with you back,” said Desmond Mason. "And that’s what happened tonight.”
Disregard Kevin Durant’s 41 points and 10 rebounds and the Thunder’s tantalizing but meaningless second-half rally. Monday’s defeat ranks atop a long laundry list of unacceptable losses, this one dropping the Thunder to 2-20 and putting Oklahoma City in a group with only two other teams in NBA history to have that mark through 22 games.
The Thunder never led and trailed by as many as 21. This against a Warriors team that entered the Ford Center losers of nine straight, playing without their best two players, Stephen Jackson and Corey Maggette, and on the final leg of a three-game road trip.
"They’ve all been disappointing,” said Nick Collison, "but this is probably one of the most disappointing losses because this was a game we needed to get. Golden State came in here beat up. They’ve been struggling. To play without two of their best players, for us to let them get layup after layup like that is unacceptable.”
For the Thunder, it was the same ingredients that have combined to form what’s been a recipe for disappointment this season — bad defense, numerous turnovers and missed free throws.
The Thunder offered no resistance as the Warriors shot 50.6 percent, including a 72.2 percent clip in the first quarter that led to a 29-23 lead after the first 12 minutes. A 32-19 Warriors second quarter extended their lead to 19 at the half.
"I’m extremely disappointed in our effort in the first half,” said Brooks, who’s one promise to Oklahoma City fans when he took over for P.J. Carlesimo was his team would play hard every night. "We can’t afford to dig ourselves a hole like that. It’s unacceptable...Coming back from the road, we were expecting to bring it in front of our home fans and we didn’t in the first half.”
The Thunder committed 22 turnovers, four fewer than its season-high. Oklahoma City made just 12 of 20 free throws, missing seven of 10 in the fourth quarter to ensure its rally fell short.
"It was a step back,” Brooks said. "But it’s a step back where we have to take from it and learn from it.”