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Oklahoma City Thunder: No need for Thunder faithful to go bananas — not just yet

The defending Western Conference champion can't be perfect every night, but there are issues that need to be addressed.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: January 3, 2013

To understand the Thunder's inconsistency, just start with Wednesday's loss and trek backward.

Against the Nets, the Thunder allowed 33 points in the opening quarter and 61 in the first half. Brooklyn ultimately shot 50 percent for the game.

Against Phoenix, the Thunder gave up 53 points and 51.2 percent shooting in first half and struggled to put away the Western Conference's worst road team until the final minutes of the fourth quarter.

Against Houston, the Thunder's 30-point blowout win overshadowed how OKC played undisciplined for the game's first 20 minutes, allowing the Rockets to score 50 points with four minutes remaining in the second quarter.

Against Dallas, the Thunder had a slow start, allowing 29 first-quarter points (and 36 in the third quarter) and watched the Mavs shoot 52.2 percent.

Against Miami, the Thunder reverted to isolation offense in the fourth quarter and had numerous defensive breakdowns throughout the game that allowed three players to score at least 20 points.

Against Minnesota, the Thunder gave up 30 points in the opening quarter and couldn't stop the Timberwolves' rapid ball movement.

Against Atlanta, the Thunder needed heroic halves from Durant (28 points in the second half) and Westbrook (21 points in the first half) to squeak out a win.

Against Sacramento, the Thunder nearly blew a 24-point lead in the final eight minutes of the game.

Against New Orleans, the Thunder looked lethargic against the Western Conference's worst team and was nearly upset at home.

The Thunder had just one dominant performance in the past 10 games. That was a 14-point home win against San Antonio. The Spurs, however, were without Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard, two of their best four players.

It's entirely possible that this stretch simply is a product of a marathon season. No team stays sharp for 82 games. The season is too long, the road too tough.

But the Thunder has become increasingly reliant on talent rather than principles.

When that becomes the norm, there's a problem, even if the record doesn't reflect it.

“We always have something to work toward and to get better at, and we're definitely not there yet,” Collison said. “So we've got to be better in the next one. I think that's the best mind-set to have is who are we today and what are we going to do today?”