‘It’s embarrassing’: Thunder lose by 57 points to Pacers

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Logan Newman
·3 min read
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“It’s embarrassing.”

There comes a point for every rebuilding team when there’s a moment that that’s all an organization can say. For the tanking Philadelphia 76ers, it may have been the 119-68 loss in December 2015, their 21st loss in 22 games to open the season following a year in which they had won just 18 games.

For the tanking Phoenix Suns, if it wasn’t the 48-point defeat in the 2017 season opener, it was less than a week later, when they lost by 42 to the Los Angeles Clippers and then Eric Bledsoe tweeted that he didn’t want to be there.

For the Oklahoma City Thunder, the first true moment came in the 152-95 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Saturday.

“It’s embarrassing,” said head coach Mark Daigneault. “I’m not going to try to spin that. It’s tough. It’s demoralizing.”

“It was a pretty ugly storm,” he added.

That’s the type of outcome to expect when the starting lineup is made of one rookie and four second-year players, three of whom spent some or most of their rookie season in the G League.

That’s the type of outcome when of the six bench players, two more are rookies and one is another second-year player who spent most of his rookie season in the G League.

The Thunder got obliterated by the Pacers on Saturday. Domantas Sabonis had a triple-double by halftime and finished with 26 points, 19 rebounds and 14 assists. Doug McDermott scored 31 points and Caris LeVert had 25.

Indiana scored at least 40 points in each of the first three quarters.

With 4:12 remaining, the Pacers led by 67, just one shy of tying the largest margin of victory in NBA history. The Thunder went on a 10-0 run to cut the deficit down into non-historic levels.

Charlie Brown Jr., on a 10-day contract with the Thunder, started the first game of his career. He recorded eight points, five rebounds and two assists in 27 minutes.

Gabriel Deck played his second NBA game and recorded eight points and 10 rebounds in 24 minutes.

Isaiah Roby had just two points and Theo Maledon scored eight. Moses Brown had 16 points and seven rebounds.

It was the worst game of the season for the Thunder, and likely the worst game in franchise history. It won’t get any easier on Sunday when they face the NBA-leading Suns.

The good news is, Oklahoma City is different than those tanking Sixers and Suns teams.

Those two teams were directionless, will all hopes lying in the draft lottery. While that is clearly important to the Thunder, they have players they believe in such as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Lu Dort and Darius Bazley. They have assets from teams including the Houston Rockets and Clippers, so they themselves don’t need to lose for years and years on end. They have a trade piece in Al Horford.

This game was embarrassing. They’ve won just two of their last 20 games. But unlike the Sixers and Suns, they built enough goodwill during the beginning of the season that fans can get through these final eight games for what they are. They can look to the future without thinking the team is two years away from being two years away from sniffing a playoff spot.

Oklahoma City lost by 57 points. They’re lucky it wasn’t worse. If there’s any positive to take away, it’s that they’ve hit their low at a good time: With eight games left, fans and the front office are already looking toward the draft.