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Since the All-Star break Oklahoma City has been bustling with playoff talk for their sports darlings – the Oklahoma City Thunder. Even bantering about the potential to host – yes, host - a playoff series in just their second year in their new home.
And then last weekend, the Chicken Littles came out of their hidey-holes with talk of falling to ninth and out of the playoff picture. All the fretting started on St. Patty’s day when the Thunder fell 100-92 at the Bobcats after having the 19 point advantage in the first half. Friday saw Oklahoma City take care of business in Toronto, but then again it is Toronto. Then on Sunday the real panic began – a 121-101 drubbing at the hands of the Indiana Pacers. Was this team really a playoff-caliber team if they couldn’t take care of business against the Pacers? And how about the maturity factor? A Jay Z concert the night before an early day game isn’t exactly the wisest choice when battling for a playoff spot.
Thankfully, it was time for the Thunder to head back to the Ford Center but that didn’t mean a win was in store in the Monday night game. After squandering another lead, this time to an experienced San Antonio squad, the game came down to a last-second miss and OKC dropped another one, 99-96. Ouch.
But Wednesday, when another neighbor-state team arrived a different story was told:
A win against the Rockets, the Thunder’s first in 14 tries.
And not just any win – a dominating performance from wire to wire. Oklahoma City held a 39-25 advantage after the first quarter that stretched to 74-57 at halftime. The end of the third saw what could have been a final game score in many contests – 101-82. An entire fourth quarter to play and already over the century mark and a big enough lead to allow Kevin Durant to grab some much-needed rest and still grab the 122-104 victory. Just the kind of game to snap the fans out of their desperation talks. Rockets vs Thunder boxscore
Tonight another tough test awaits – in the form of Kobe and the Lake Show. If indeed the Thunder drop to eighth from their current sixth place perch in the west, this could be a foreshadowing of a first-round playoff game. One of two teams that Thunder fans hoping to avoid. With a win, aside from keeping the playoff meeting farther away, it will give this young team confidence that indeed they are a playoff-caliber team that can hang with the best, something we’ve seen evidenced throughout their 70 games thus far. Lakers vs Thunder coverage
Besides, the fan in me that only likes Kobe puppet and not Kobe person wants to see his swagger stunted as the chants of ‘Beat LA’ fill the Ford.