Column: 1 successful play helped the Thunder loss become a positive

Rebuilding teams have a couple different modes. The Oklahoma City Thunder have shown both over this losing streak that reached 12 with the 122-116 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday.

One of them is blowout defeats. Think of the beginning of April, when Thunder basketball was, for the first time in more than a decade, simply not fun. These losses sure help a team with draft position, but if this lasts for an extended period of time, it can hurt players who are currently on the roster to be removed from a winning environment for such a period.

The other mode is close losses in which young players get thrown into late-game scenarios and are forced to perform under pressure. That’s been the case the last few games, as it was during the Pacers game.

And after that Pacers game, even though it was a loss, Thunder power forward Darius Bazley expressed genuine excitement about one of the fourth-quarter situations.

With about 30 seconds left and the Thunder down five points, Kenrich Williams pressed Pacers ball handler Malcolm Brogdon and forced the guard to throw the ball deeper into the back court. Ty Jerome leapt the pass, got the steal, and kicked it to Theo Maledon, who was wide open for 3. With the basket, Oklahoma City trailed by two points with 24.5 seconds to play.

It was a perfectly executed play, and it was one the Thunder have practiced.

“We go over situational stuff all the time,” Bazley said. “Coach is always showing us these different scenarios, and we get put in them and sometimes it doesn’t go our way.

“But tonight — for us to go over the situational stuff and then it actually happen, I was like ‘Oh, snap.’ Because I’ve never really been in a game like that, where that actually has happened. So when it did happen, my heart was just like beating fast.”

In a long, losing season, it’s easy for the days and weeks and months to become a slog. When what you’re working on doesn’t result in wins, it can feel like a waste. That’s an issue that plagues bad teams, and it’s why tanking can ruin a culture if the front office isn’t careful.

RELATED: 3 takeaways from Thunder loss to Pacers

These in-game victories, even if they don’t result in an actual win, are vital cogs for development and can serve as somewhat of a minor seminal moment.

“They call timeout and I’m thinking, like, ‘Alright, let’s see if we can do it again,'” Bazley said.

The Thunder couldn’t do it again Wednesday, as Brogdon sank four free throws to close out the game.

But maybe they can do it again Friday. Or maybe next season, players will remember that these practice scenarios do work and are relevant — not just drills. That “oh snap” moment can spark something during the next practice, which in turn can spark success when it matters during a game.

It’s tough to get players to buy in when you’re on a 12-game losing streak, but when head coach Mark Daigneault has game situations to point back to, it will help continue to develop winning habits.

Wednesday was not a win, but it wasn’t necessarily a loss for the Thunder either.

This post originally appeared on OKCThunderWire. Follow us on Facebook!