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John Rohde: It shouldn’t happen at home

By John Rohde Modified: March 29, 2010 at 12:05 am •  Published: March 29, 2010

Thunder coach Scott Brooks kept pleading for more effort. He begged for better rebounding. He screamed for more of everything. He dangled a day off in his players’ face.

To no avail.

Unlike two nights earlier against the world champion Lakers, the Thunder never got rolling Sunday night inside the Ford Center, which resulted in a 92-87 loss to Portland.

We all realize the 82-game regular season is a marathon, not a sprint. Teams will have off nights. Occasionally, your body is tired and simply won’t respond.

None of these shortcomings should transpire at home, however. Sunday was the team’s 24{+t}{+h} sellout (18,203) of the season. The crowd certainly provided an energy source, but the Thunder short-circuited.

Given how good Portland is, this outcome doesn’t qualify as a choke, but the Thunder certainly wasn’t clutch.

After a scintillating performance on Friday, the Thunder (44-28) failed to capitalize against a team that’s within percentage points of gaining a higher playoff seed.

"I thought our guys played with a lot of energy and a lot of effort, after the first four or five minutes,” Brooks said. "We played hard, but lost the game ... Portland was better down the stretch tonight. That happens.”

The playoffs are approaching, and it’s easily noticeable in the Thunder’s expressions. The normally well-composed Brooks is far more animated on the sideline. He’s not so quick to accept crappy calls from officials.

The difference in the game came in a span of 0.7 seconds, during which the Trail Blazers scored seven unanswerable points.

With 0.1 left in the first quarter, Portland guard Jerryd Bayless got two free throws on what was a clean block by Eric Maynor.

With 0.6 left in the second quarter, Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum tipped in a Brandon Roy miss.

As the third-quarter buzzer sounded, Roy banked in a 3-pointer from the right wing.

These sequences sting because there’s no opportunity to counter punch.


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