Inevitably, non-believers will look at Oklahoma City’s 3-3 record and point out the breaks, the string of good fortune the Thunder has been blessed with in these first two weeks of the season.
There was the 13-point, season-opening win against a dreadful Sacramento squad, the eight-point road victory two nights later at Detroit against a Pistons team playing without Richard Hamilton and Sunday’s 102-74 thumping of an Orlando team that came to town with an injured Vince Carter and a suspended Rashard Lewis. But the Thunder has done exactly what it is supposed to do, pound the walking wounded, pounce on the weak, peel off victories any way it can. It’s what helps bad teams blossom to playoff bound. The Hornets, when they relocated to Oklahoma City for two seasons, flirted with the postseason before their time because they routinely took advantage of short-handed, injury-plagued outfits. The Thunder, in its inaugural season in Oklahoma City last year, won just 23 games because it couldn’t step on a team when it was down. Remember the weakened Golden State Warriors team that entered the Ford Center on Dec. 8? They came in losers of nine straight, playing without their best two players, Stephen Jackson and Corey Maggette, and on the final leg of a three-game road trip — the Thunder lost 112-102. Or how about the Los Angeles Clippers team that stole a 107-104 victory on Jan. 23 at Staples Center despite being without starters Baron Davis, Zach Randolph, Chris Kaman and Marcus Camby? Or the 115-98 blowout by the Bucks on April 11 despite Milwaukee sitting Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut? Trust us, the list goes on.