This can't be what Thunder coach Scott Brooks had in mind when he threw out a 10-game challenge to his team leading up to the All-Star break.
Brooks wanted to use the final 10 games before the break to build momentum. But all the Thunder has done in the past three games is taken steps backward.
With a win tonight against Sacramento, the Thunder would finish 7-3 in the 10 games before All-Star Weekend. But much like the rest of the year, what stands out is not the Thunder's respectable record in this stretch. It's the erratic manner in which the mark was made.
Unless the Thunder emphatically disposes of the Kings tonight, it will have limped into the break, momentum mitigated.
“We feel like we've dropped some games we shouldn't have dropped,” said Thunder forward Nick Collison. “We're doing OK. If we would have closed out some games better, we would really be on a nice streak.”
It was Jan. 26, before a visit to Minnesota, when Brooks issued his challenge. Since then, the Thunder has lost only to Miami, Memphis and Golden State. All three defeats were by six points or less and came down to the final seconds.
But three of the wins left more to be desired.
The Thunder won by just one point against the Wolves, needing overtime to do so, and allowed a Washington team that was then winless on the road to push it to two overtimes before clinching a seven-point victory. Against the Kings on Saturday, the Thunder nearly squandered a 13-point, fourth-quarter lead.