December was a significant step forward for an NBA organization that hasn’t posted a winning season since 2004-05.
Riding a five-game winning streak, posting their first winning full month in nearly three years, the Oklahoma City Thunder was one of the league’s biggest success stories during the 2009 portion of the schedule.
"We’re rolling right now, so you really don’t want to think about it too much,” said Thabo Sefolosha.
The Thunder technically had a winning "month” (2-0) in October. But a 9-6 record in December marked the first time since the Sonics went 8-7 in March 2006 that the organization has posted a winning record over one full month of games.
An eight-game stretch in the middle of December was pivotal.
Stacked with games against some of the league’s elite, the Thunder began the stretch 2-5, losing to the Los Angeles Lakers, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver and Houston.
A win at Phoenix two days before Christmas sparked the current five-game streak. Since the schedule softened after Christmas, going 14-14 was a respectable start.
One of the most revealing stats is the Thunder went 7-0 in December against teams with losing records.
"Since I had success (at Kansas), and my first year in the league we won the division, I kind of took winning for granted,” Nick Collison said. "The next four years, we didn’t have much success. I’m enjoying this, but I also realize it can go away quickly.”
Oklahoma City should remain in playoff contention all season if it can continue to pad a 12-2 record against sub-.500 teams.
"We’re playing well going into the New Year, so we’re excited about that,” Kevin Durant said.
Check out Page 6B for a look back at the Thunder’s month of December.