The remedy has little to do with energy, effort or strategy. Instead, it seems it’s as simple as focus, as simple as the Thunder reverting to the tight-knit team with that singular focus.
“I just think as a team we have to decide what’s most important to us,” said Derek Fisher. “And if it’s the team success, then you’ll start to see, offensively and defensively, things tighten up the way they need to tighten up.”
Fisher compared citing the Thunder’s defense as the chief issue right now to perusing a box score and assuming a player with 20 points had a better game than a teammate with four points. As we know, that’s not always the case. And it’s funny Fish used stats to convey his point.
Because Durant’s triple-double, a 27-point, 10-rebound, 12-assist effort, was about as hollow as they come while serving as a microcosm of some of the selfishness that has resulted in this team’s slippage.
Durant piled up 10 points with five rebounds and five assists in the opening period. He helped the Thunder build a nine-point lead that quickly grew to 18 less than 21/2 minutes into the second quarter. But when Durant returned with 7:58 left in the second, he began passing, clearly in search of the necessary assists he would need for the triple-double. He didn’t take a shot until 43 seconds remained in the period. It was his only attempt of the quarter, and he didn’t get to the foul line.
Meanwhile, the Lakers were capturing momentum and complete control with a 21-5 spurt that pulled them within two.
In the locker room after the game, Durant, Westbrook and Jackson all struggled to supply answers to questions about what’s wrong with this team.
Moments later, Fisher stepped in front of the cameras and summed it up perfectly.
After questioning the Thunder’s focus, as well as stressing the importance of players respecting each other and the game, Fisher was asked if he wondered whether his teammates have the right priorities.
“No, I’m not wondering if they are,” he said. “I don’t question guys’ commitment to the team. I’m saying, right now, we’re not putting it collectively out on the court.”
And that’s this team’s biggest problem.