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Jenni Carlson: Thunder had a great season

Was it a disappointing end to the Oklahoma City Thunder's season? Definitely. But was the season as a whole disappointing? No way, writes columnist Jenni Carlson.
by Jenni Carlson Published: May 28, 2011

Kevin Durant was shocked. Kendrick Perkins was angry. James Harden was disappointed.

You know those feelings, Thunder fans.

The way the boys in blue ended this season was difficult to stomach for everyone involved. A pair of blown fourth-quarter leads in back-to-back games against Dallas. A five-game ouster from the Western Conference Finals.

A playoff run that lasted the better part of six weeks came to an end so abruptly.

“Disappointed,” Harden said. “Very disappointed.

“We had a chance to go to The Finals. Not many players have that opportunity — period — in their careers. So, of course, we're disappointed.”

Is the season disappointing?

“No, not at all,” the Thunder guard said. “We had a great season.

“A great season.”

That, the Thunder did.

On this first basketball-less weekend since October, it's time to look back on this Thunder season, to reflect on the ride. It would be easy to get caught up in the frustration of this past week — and I'm not saying it should be all smiles at the way the season ended — but it's important to get some perspective.

I mean, this season began with Thunder general manager Sam Presti reminding us that the franchise was only two seasons removed from a 23-win campaign. It seemed like his way of saying that even though the Thunder had made the playoffs and pushed the Lakers to six games the season before, expectations shouldn't be pushed too high.

But it didn't take long to see that this team was going to be good. The chemistry was strong. The improvement was obvious.

The Thunder went into the All-Star Break with a 35-19 record, and you knew that a return to the playoffs was almost assured and that a division title wasn't out of the question.

Then, the Thunder blew up its lineup.

Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic, out.

Kendrick Perkins, in.

The mid-season trade looked like a good deal for the Thunder, which needed post defense and interior nastiness. Still, make no mistake, this was a gamble. New players. Different personalities. It could've derailed a good thing.

Instead, it put the Thunder on track for something even greater.

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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