By Michael Kinney
Things are not going well for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Aside from riding a three-game losing streak and carrying an 8-12 record, fans are calling for the head of their coach Billy Donovan.
All of this before the team has reached the 25-game mark has players upset.
“Nobody is moping around, nobody is frustrated. I think guys are angry. I think guys are pissed,” Anthony said. “That just comes from your competitive nature, wanting to win games … understanding what we have over here, the talent level that we have over here and not being able to put it together right now. So that’s where the anger comes in at.”
Losing happens in the NBA. Over the course of 82 games, even the best teams go through periods where things aren’t working.
But for the Thunder, that dry spell has lasted since the second game of the season and only seems to be getting worse.
In the Thunder’s past two contests, they have lost to the Dallas Mavericks and the Orlando Magic. They had a combined record of 14-29.
After the defeat in Orlando, Russell Westbrook was seen sitting on the end of the Thunder bench with his head in his hands. While it could have been due to the bruise he endured on his left hand or from the mounting frustration of the season.
“That’s my responsibility to make sure that we’re ready to play on both sides of the ball and to get us out of this funk,” Westbrook said. “We have to lock in. That starts with me and I take ownership in everything that is going on because I’ve been here. I know the standards that we set here in Oklahoma City. I have to set an example. It starts with me and we’re going to turn this thing around.”
While Donovan has refused to critique any of the players publicly, he seemingly came close when alluding to the players doing things their own way instead of the system.
“It’s not my rules, it’s the game of basketball’s rules. There are certain things you have to do as it relates to the game of basketball,” Donovan said. “The game of basketball is like the house in gambling. You may be able to gamble a little bit here or there and come out on top on a particular day, but over the long haul, those habits you have to establish. Because the game always wins out in the end, over a long period of time.”
Even though Donovan won’t come out and put the blame on the shoulder’s of the players, that didn’t stop color commentator and former NBA player Antonio Daniels from giving his opinion on the post-game broadcast on Fox Sports.
“You are representing your community. You are representing your city. You are representing your organization. And it’s embarrassing,” Daniels said. “It is embarrassing that teams continue to have their ‘coming out’ games against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Dirk Nowitzki has been invisible all year, but then against the Oklahoma City Thunder, he looks like the Dirk Nowitzki of old. Yeah, Aaron Gordon has gotten in the lab, and he’s worked on his game. Forty points and 13 rebounds? There comes a point where somebody on this roster has to take a hard foul, has to get a technical foul, has to get thrown out of a game, has to show some sort of emotion and some sort of passion that will trickle down the line to everyone else. You cannot continue to go out every game and just talk about doing the right things, not do the right things and expect a different result. That’s not the way professional sports works.”
Anthony echoed a similar sentiment after practice Thursday.
“I think in this game you almost have to be angry when you’re losing basketball games,” Anthony said. “The way we’re losing basketball games, it’s more on us than anybody else. The anger part comes in, and I think when you’re angry you show that you care. It’s different than being frustrated. Being angry and being frustrated are two different things.”
The Thunder start a three-game homestand Friday night when they host Minnesota, San Antonio (Sunday) and Utah (Tuesday). It’s a chance for them to get right against some stiff Western Conference competition or fall even further back from their desired goals.
“As a team we have to know what is working for us and staying steady and staying with it,” forward Paul George said. “We’re great when we’re locked into our system. That’s where we have to be. We have to find that level of play every possession and for 48 minutes.”
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Writer with Eyeamtruth.com