“That was bad.”
That’s what I heard a fan saying as he walked out in front of me. Simple, succinct and entirely correct. That was bad. Very, very bad.
I’d also accept horrible, awful, tragic, disgusting, pathetic, sickening, terrible and cruel. Yeah, cruel. I like that one. I’m going with cruel.
I honestly don’t even know what to point to. I don’t know who to blame. When you blow a 15-point lead with five minutes left in a must-win playoff game, it’s everybody’s fault. Right down to the ballboys and security guards. I want to grab Tony Brothers and shake him for calling such a touch foul in such a big moment, but it’s not even worth it. It should’ve never, ever come to that. Scoring two points in the final five minutes is nobody’s fault but your own.
The Thunder led 99-84 with 5:05 to go. After that, the Mavs outscored them 28-6, including overtime. It started the second James Harden fouled out. It was a dumb backcourt foul with the Mavs in the bonus. Once that happened, the collapse started. That was the first pebble getting kicked off the hilltop. From that second on, the avalanche was on.
You can talk about how the Thunder will learn from this and how they’re young. Screw that. They blew it. They blew Game 4 at home in a must-win situation. They were ahead 15 points with five minutes to go and they lost. The only thing you learn from that is that you choked away a win. They were supposed to learn from letting Game 3 against the Grizzlies slip away. Evidently, they didn’t. Heck, that was just a 10-point fourth quarter lead. They’re actually getting worse.
Think about this game. The Thunder came out rolling early and fought off a few Dallas comebacks. The first lead Dallas had in this game came in overtime. The Thunder dominated this game. They pretty much won this game. At least they should have. That’s all you can say. They should have won this game. How you can ever dream of coming back from a loss like this is hard to imagine.
Get used to this. It’s part of it. This is part of having a team that you love dearly, that you make yourself a part of. It hurts when bad things happen. It’s not always good and fun. It’s year three and this team is young. If we’re lucky, there’s going to be a lot more heartbreaking moments over the next 50 years. You think Blazer fans are over their Game 7 collapse against the Lakers? It happens. And you won’t get over it. The only way you will is if the Thunder pulls off a stunner and wins this series somehow. The chances of that happening, well, aren’t good.
Game 4 was a meltdown. Plain and simple. I suppose the series isn’t over, but for it to go down like this, man, what do you say? To have this kind of bad taste in your mouth after what could very well be the last home game of the season is a complete shame. This is why sports suck. You invest yourself so much emotionally, you live and breathe through a team and just when they’ve got you back to believing, your heart is shattered. It’s what jades people. It’s what makes you forget about what a magical season it’s been and how good we’ve had it.
But because of five terrible minutes all of that goodwill will be forgotten, at least until a few weeks go by and we can all regain perspective. Or I guess the Thunder could shock the world, win Game 5 in Dallas and bring it back to Oklahoma City for one more shot at redemption. We can hope.
- The Thunder were up 12 when Harden fouled out. They scored six points the next 9:34. Harden’s not a miracle worker. He had just seven points. But having that extra creator on the floor obviously makes so much difference. Just the spacing is key. That’s why it was hard not to wonder why Daequan Cook wasn’t subbed in for Thabo in the overtime. But Brooks was going to try and win with stops and hope Durant and Westbrook scored just enough to win.
- KD: “I feel upset because I feel that I let the fans down, that I let the city down.”
- That last possession in regulation was a complete disaster. You can blame Scott Brooks for it, but KD just took a dumb shot. There were 3.2 seconds on the clock when he pulled up for it and he was 30 feet from the basket and off balance. How that’s Scott Brooks’ fault, I do not know.
- Because I’m a biased homer, I mean really Tony Brothers? Really? In that moment you call THAT foul? I guess we shouldn’t have expected anything less from you, but good grief man. Good grief.
- The box score is so messed up. OKC outrebounded Dallas 55-33 and had 20 offensive boards. OKC turned it over 26 times. The Thunder took nine more shots and hit almost 47 percent and lost.
- One stat that really tells you things is that after KD hit a 3 to make it 99-84, the Thunder as a team were 2-5 from deep. After that, OKC went 0-8 from 3. That’s what happens to the Thunder offense when it goes bad. Guys start chucking 3s because it’s the only thing they’re remotely open for.
- The worst play of the game in my mind was OKC’s second to last possession in regulation. The Thunder were up two and had a chance to seal it. The different in the shot clock and game clock was about eight seconds. KD attacked too early, kicked to a semi-open Thabo in the corner who for some reason decided to take a pretty wild, off balance 3 with seven on the shot clock. Not only was it a dumb shot, but it was way too early. That sequence says it all.
- Also big: Westbrook’s two missed free throws.
- There are so many different notes that I had written down that don’t mean anything now. Like how the Thunder did a great job taking control to start the fourth. Like how great Nick Collison was once again. Like how well Durant rebounded. Like how good the Thunder’s defense was the first eight minutes of the fourth. But all that doesn’t matter anymore. For shame.
- Someone tweeted me a good solution for OKC’s starting lineup issues: Just have Collison and Harden start each game at the scorer’s table. Problem solved, right?
- KD didn’t have all the buckles buckled on his backpack tonight. I think that says it all. He was heartbroken.
- The Thunder’s four points in overtime came from a Thabo jumper and an Ibaka jumper. What the crap?
- This Mavs comeback doesn’t happen though without them hitting some really incredible shots. Dirk hit a tough pull-up 3. Then a lucky, awkward shot where he was trying to draw a foul. Then Jason Kidd hits a leaning 3 in overtime to give Dallas a three-point lead. Sometimes, it just goes right for people.
- Brooks talked starting five again before the game: “If you give a young team instability you’re going to get very inconsistent results,” he said. “I’m a consistent guy. I believe in consistency. I know that’s the talk but, I’m glad my wife doesn’t listen to you guys, because she wants to keep the same husband she’s had for 18 years.”
- There’s going to be a lot of breaking down and finger pointing for what happened in Game 4. Russell Westbrook will likely shoulder some blame. Kevin Durant might take some. Scott Brooks will get a lot. But like I said, the team lost this game. Blame who you want, yell and gripe if it makes you feel better. The Thunder lost this game because they didn’t finish a game they had won for 44 minutes. Plain and simple. Blaming someone is always part of a difficult loss, but I don’t think anyone one person is responsible.
- Another super weird halftime show. It was impressive, yeah, but man was it awkwardly weird.
- KD had nine turnovers. Westbrook six.
- Serge Ibaka returned to form finally. He had 18 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks.
- KD was roughed up off the ball like something else tonight. He couldn’t get anything called in his favor. When officials let guys defend Durant that way, it limits him about 40 percent offensively.
- Rick Carlisle was impressed by Thunder fans: “We need our building to be as loud as this building. It’s as simple as that. This is a fantastic place to play a playoff game because of the level of enthusiasm, noise — I mean those were getting beat and they were going to lose and the place is yelling ‘O-K-C! O-K-C!’. The fans are beyond belief.” So there’s something to take with you.
- Oklahoma City, now 26-7 in bounce back games.
Next up: Game 5 in Dallas Wednesday night.