I cannot recall too many nights where Kevin Durant scores 48 points and Oklahoma City Thunder lost, but that was the story tonight against the Utah Jazz in a 112-101 loss on the road. The blame may fall in many places, but no one will be pointing the finger at Durant. Serge Ibaka missed the game with the flu, and that is what I think made the biggest difference in this game. Its bad enough they are without Russell Westbrook. Losing their third-best player was an obstacle they were not prepared to overcome.
The lack of production from anyone not named Durant or Reggie Jackson – who scored 20 points in his second-straight game — was another huge reason for their loss. Jackson and Durant were the only two Thunder players to score in double-figures. Jeremy Lamb is usually serves as a nice piece when things are not going so well for key role players, but even he struggled to get it going tonight. Lamb went 4-of-14 on the night in his worst outing in recent weeks.
I have recently stressed how important it is for the OKC role players to find consistency. They have been good on some nights, but even worse on others. It is still relatively early in the season, so they may need a little more time to gel before they are competing at a high level each game, with or without Westbrook. It is a bummer they had such a bad game, because Durant’s performance was simply remarkable.
These players will have another chance to regain their confidence on Thursday when they hit the road against the Denver Nuggets. If Ibaka is healthy enough to play, then I do not see why they cannot get back on track, especially while Durant and Jackson are playing so well. This loss is not that big of a deal, but another loss away from home will dig up some old dirt on this team. They need to avoid all adversity while Westbrook sits and the only way to do so is by winning more games than they lose. They now sit at 4-3 without their star point guard, so we will see what the story is after their game on Thursday.