A quarter of the way through the first season in their new home, the Oklahoma City Thunder are on pace to finish with the worst record in NBA history.
Lately, though, even they can’t match the futility of the Golden State Warriors.
The league-worst Thunder will try to pick up their first home win in more than a month on Monday night against the Warriors, who will be looking to avoid their first 10-game losing streak in nearly seven years.
It’s been a tough transition for the former Seattle SuperSonics to Oklahoma City, where the Thunder (2-19) have gotten off to the fifth-worst start in league history. Their .095 winning percentage has them on pace to finish with eight wins, one fewer than the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers, whose 9-73 record was the NBA’s worst ever.
Yet for as woeful as Oklahoma City has been, it’s been showing signs of progress over the last two weeks. The Thunder have only suffered one double-digit loss in their last seven games, a stretch in which they won their first road game and lost two home games by a combined three points.
On Saturday in Miami, they fell behind by 15 after three quarters, but came back to tie the score at 90 midway through the fourth. While the Heat rallied to win 105-99, Thunder coach Scott Brooks was impressed with his team’s effort, which included a career-high 30 points from rookie guard Russell Westbrook.
“Our guys fought and competed,” Brooks said. “We came up short. Not one guy in there is happy with moral victories. We have enough of those.”
While the Thunder seem to be improving, that hasn’t been the case with Golden State (5-15), which has been a defensive sieve during its nine-game losing streak.
The Warriors followed up a 19-point loss in Houston on Friday night with an even worse performance on Saturday. Golden State fell behind by as many as 41 in a 123-88 loss at San Antonio, their most lopsided defeat since a 126-89 loss— also to the Spurs—on March 26, 2007.
“We had hoped to play the Spurs when they were injured,” coach Don Nelson said, “but we didn’t make it in time. We played badly tonight, and they can always make you look worse than you are.”
As usual, a lack of defense was the Warriors’ undoing. Golden State has given up 120.1 points per game during its nine-game losing streak, and has been outscored by an average of 14.2 points.
The Warriors haven’t lost 10 in a row since March 9-24, 2002.
As poor as Golden State’s defense has been, a few of its best offensive weapons have been struggling as well. Andris Biedrins opened the season with 10 straight double-doubles—giving him 17 in a row dating to last season—but he’s only had two in his last 10 games. He scored a season-low five points in San Antonio.
Leading scorer Stephen Jackson (20.1 ppg), meanwhile, has failed to top 11 points in three of his last four games. He had six on Saturday before leaving midway through the second quarter to rest his sprained left hand, and is expected to have an MRI on Sunday.
The Warriors won two of three against the Sonics last season, but lost 126-121 on April 16 behind a career-high 42 points from Thunder star Kevin Durant.