Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant walked off the Ford Center court together after Sunday night’s game. Wish they’d spent more time together during the game. This was a disappointing night for the Thunder. It blew a fourth-quarter lead, fumbling a great opportunity for a big-time victory and losing to Atlanta 89-85. Almost as disappointing, though, was Westbrook sitting the bench during crunch time. The rookie point guard threw down an explosive slam with just under 8 minutes remaining in the game. That gave him what was then a team-high 15 points. But after a timeout, Westbrook was replaced and played less than a minute the rest of the game. Why? "It’s a little bit of everything,” Thunder coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "It’s every aspect of the game — defense, rotations, rebounds.” Carlesimo went on to say that part of the issue Sunday was the match-up problems posed by Atlanta. He wanted Desmond Mason, Jeff Green and Durant in the game along with a big man to counter the Hawks’ size and athleticism. Add the fact that point guard Earl Watson was having a whale of a game himself, and Westbrook essentially became the odd man out. Even though this was only one game, the fourth quarter was the kind of stretch that Westbrook needed. Nothing can replace experience, and right now, he needs all the on-the-job training that he can get. Westbrook and Durant, after all, are the future of the Thunder, and there’s no time like the present to start getting them ready for it. Fact is, this is a team building for the future. I know the players don’t like to hear that. I suspect the fans don’t like it much, either. Everyone needed to look no farther than the visitor’s bench Sunday for solace. Not so long ago, Atlanta was a down-and-out franchise. The Hawks decided to rebuild with young guns, and for a couple years, they lived and died with their youth. Most of the time, they died by it. The Hawks stunk for a while. But you know what happened? The youngsters grew up, got better and started winning. Last season, the Hawks went to the playoffs. This season, they are undefeated. It’s not crazy to think the Thunder could be in the same position in a few years, but to get there, they’re going to have to take some lumps now. That means you have the point guard of the future in the game at crunch time. Is he turnover prone? Yes, but he’s also a rookie. He’s going to make mistakes, and frankly, the plays he made Sunday overshadowed the mistakes he made. "He came out and gave us a spark off the bench, played hard, and that’s what we need from him,” Durant said. "He’s been playing like that all season, and he’s got to continue to play like that for us to be a good team.” Westbrook said: "I’m still learning. I’m trying to learn every game, watch film and just continue to learn.” Watching film and scouting opponents is all good and fine, but Westbrook needs to have the experience, too. What’s the worst that could’ve happened if he would’ve played more in the fourth quarter? The Thunder could’ve lost? Oh, wait. That is what happened. Westbrook needs to be out there with Durant and Co. no matter the outcome.