As you already know, the Thunder lost Desmond Mason for the rest of the season last week after he suffered a hyper extension of his right knee . The injury occured in the 3rd quarter of the overtime win against the Grizzlies. Since then the Thunder have struggled, and that's an understatement. The Thunder had a miserable 4th quarter against the Grizzlies after Mason left the court (Although dominated OT). The Oklahoma City Thunder then traveled to Utah, where they got beat upside the head against the Jazz, and followed that up with another overtime game, this time a loss, against the 10 win Kings.
Since Mason has been out of the lineup, the Thunder have given up the following point totals in each quarter (Including the final quarter against the Grizz): 29, 28, 36, 31, 15, 33, 30, 29, & 20. That averages out to just shy of 28 points given up per quarter, and that's including the 15 in the final quarter of the Jazz game which was already a blowout. The Thunder were already averaging a miserable 103 points per game against them before Mason went out, and if you take 28 times four quarters, you get a total of 112 points, which is 9 points worse than their season average.
We all knew we would miss Mason defensively when he went down, but what we as fans didn't expect, is for the Thunder to play this dreadfully bad without him. You can't give up 28 points per quarter and win games, you just can't, especially when you're not a Mike D'Antoni coached team. The Thunder are going to have to rely on some of the young blood on the team to pick up the slack defensively, otherwise its going to be a long few months left in the season.
Brooks early solution was to plug the Big 10 defensive player of the year last season, Kyle Weaver, into the starting lineup. The problem is that Weaver is a Rookie and going to be prone to rookie mistakes, and with fellow rookie Russell Westbrook in the backcourt, and sophomore players Durant, and Green, this team will be lacking players on the court with experience and ability to play basketball without making those rookie mistakes. Although I love this group of young guys, I think Brooksy needs to look at making sure there is enough veteran leadership on the court when his young guns are out there.
Of course, its hard to say whether the teams performance is from lack of Mason in the lineup, new rotations being on the floor, or the team just falling into a bit of a slump. Two and one quarter games is hardly enough to know for sure the impact of his loss, but one thing is for sure, this team hasn't had the same defensive presence on the court without him.