When discussing Monday night's loss against the Los Angeles Clippers, those associated with the Thunder at one point uttered the same thing almost verbatim.
“We had a bad game. It happens.”
The 112-100 loss at Staples Center indeed was a bad game for OKC. There were times it was an extremely bad game.
However, the Thunder is extremely good at making sure one bad game does not become two. OKC's record after a loss the last two seasons is 22-7, a mark surpassed only by Chicago's 21-4.
Resiliency has not been a problem for the Thunder and it's no time to start, with a nationally televised (ESPN) 7 p.m. game Wednesday at Dallas (14-8) and a five-game road trip commencing Saturday at San Antonio.
With four straight games against playoff teams from a year ago – not including the revamped Clippers – the degree of difficulty has just gone up for OKC, which entered Monday's game with the NBA's best record.
The Thunder (16-4) still has the best record, but is on the cusp of losing a second straight game to a Western Conference team that could actually be better, no matter what the overall standings say.
If OKC is about to surpass the world champion Mavericks in the West, there's no time like the present to prove it.
The Thunder needs to beat the Mavs when it matters, like Wednesday night. Not in a preseason sweep against a shell of a team. No 28-foot bombs at the final buzzer from Superman Kevin Durant should be required.
Nothing would send a message quite like beating the champs on their own floor, but the last time OKC played at American Airlines Center, it got whipped 100-87.
After watching the Thunder get humbled on Monday, many Western teams have a shot of adrenaline.
The new-look Clippers were downright giddy with how well things went Monday, and with good reason. Keep playing like that and they might only lose about a half-dozen more games this season and become the class of the West.
That's how good the Clippers looked against OKC – 52.0 percent from 3-point range; 58.2 percent from 2-point range; 28 assists; 14 turnovers, several of which came simply by passing too much.
Premier point guard Chris Paul is spreading the wealth on a roster that soon will go nine players deep with the gradual return of injured guard Eric Bledsoe.
Meanwhile, warts are beginning to show on the Thunder.
Durant (36 points) and Russell Westbrook (31) were scintillating against the Clippers despite a combined 10 turnovers, but having to play 5-on-2 makes OKC positively no threat to win the West.
Serge Ibaka stands tall at times, but mysteriously disappears at others.
Kendrick Perkins better quit complaining and regain his early season energy. He has eight technical fouls – three more than anyone in the league – and is just five techs away from serving a one-game suspension.
Monday's setback reaffirmed the defensive importance of starting guard Thabo Sefolosha, who sat out with a sore right foot that was packed in ice after the game. The Thunder has lost half its games (0-2) with Sefolosha out of the lineup.
The significance of losing backup point guard Eric Maynor to season-ending knee surgery is becoming more evident each day. Now that teams have had a look-see at rookie guard Reggie Jackson, they're beginning to apply the clamps.
Could this perhaps lead to James Harden relieving Westbrook more frequently at the point and streaky reserve guard Daequan Cook taking on more minutes in a three-guard rotation?
Then again, maybe all this is an over-reaction. OKC lost Monday night's game in a span of 51 seconds just before halftime when the Clippers converted four straight 3-pointers and went on a 12-0 run, which happened to be the final point spread.
It was one bad minute in one bad game. Or is it more than that?