The playoffs are just one game away for the Oklahoma City Thunder, and after the loss against the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, it was good to get a win at home against the Sacramento Kings. Even if the win makes no difference in playoff seeding.
After having appeared to be the team to beat in the West for nearly the entire season, the Thunder have conceded the best record in the West to the ageless veterans of the San Antonio Spurs. With no able to challenge OKC for the second seed, these last two games have become meaningless.
Unless you look at momentum.
The Thunder have been having a rough April, going 0-6 against playoff teams after the April 1st win against the Chicago Bulls, and 8-6 over all. This is not the way a team wants to head into the playoffs. Especially a team as young as this.
There should be no doubt that the Thunder have the talent to win it all, they just need to show that they have the resilience it takes to go the distance.
Sunday’s loss to the Lakers came after the team blew a 17 point fourth quarter lead and found themselves unable to close the game out at the end of regulation. It took two overtimes for the Lakers to get the win, in a game that they had to have as they fight to secure the 3rd seed in the West. OKC helped them by losing their focus. Kevin Durant disappeared when it should be his time to shine, and Russell Westbrook went crazy trying to close out the game, getting two foul calls that rescued him from a series of wild shots.
Against the Kings, Westbrook was the facilitator, setting up the offense and getting his points as they came. Durant closed out with 32, extending his lead on Kobe Bryant for this years scoring title by the slightest of margins. Both players were pulled at the end of the 3rd, even though it was still a 4 point game.
OKC’s bench played their hearts out in the 4th quarter and pulled out the win for the team. This was a huge win for the bench, which is down a man with James Harden still waiting to be cleared to play after suffering a concussion in Sunday’s game. The concussion came from an elbow thrown by Laker’s forward, Metta World Peace. who was given a 7 game suspension as a result.
The win, while not against a playoff team, is a good start, and with one game left against the Denver Nuggets, the Thunder could regain some of their earlier momentum when they went 31-8 in the first 39 games. At this time off year it is all about coming together and peaking at the right moment. Lets hope the Thunder see it the same.
Jeff Everette is the featured columnist for the Miami Dolphins on Rant Sports. You can follow him on twitter@jeverettesports, or like his facebook page: Jeff Everette- Rant Sports for all of his latest articles.