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Oklahoma City Thunder seeking answers after latest loss

From NBA media reports

All season long, the Oklahoma City Thunder have struggled to find traction in the standings. It started early in the season, as a four-game skid in early November led to a team meeting in which stars Carmelo Anthony, Paul George and reigning Kia MVP Russell Westbrook tried to clear the air.

The next three games after that meeting were all wins, but since that mini-bright spot, the Thunder have lost seven of their last 12 games. Yes, there was another three-game win streak in that run (featuring wins over the Minnesota Timberwolves, San Antonio Spurs and Utah Jazz). And heading into last night, the Thunder had won four of its last five games.

But last night’s home loss to the Hornets was troubling to some of OKC’s players afterward, particularly the way in which it allowed Charlotte back in the game in the third quarter. As the season rolls on and the Western Conference playoff race gets tougher to crack, though, there’s less and less time to wait for change, though. Royce Young of ESPN.com has more:

“For the talent that we have, obviously this is not where we want to be,” Thunder forward Paul George said. “But we’re going to remain optimistic, though, about the future and what we can do. Once we can find a way to really do it night in and night out, it’s no panic mode, but we have to start playing better. It’s getting to a point where we can’t allow ourselves to be at this point. We can say we’re going to figure it out, we can say all that. But at some point it’s gotta stop.”

The Thunder watched helplessly as the game got away in the third quarter, with Charlotte outscoring them 40-22. On Monday, it was defensive failures that hurt OKC, with coach Billy Donovan, somewhat surprisingly, happy with the way the Thunder executed.

“As crazy as this may sound, I was really, really, really excited with the way we played offense tonight. I really was,” Donovan said. “I thought we generated really good shots tonight. It wasn’t a great shooting night for us, but I think the guys’ intentions of trying to do the things we’ve asked them to do — in terms of ball movement — I thought they really stayed with it for 48 minutes. I was really encouraged by that part of it.”

With Donovan at the podium, Anthony left, with the locker room still closed to reporters. No reason was given for Anthony’s early departure. By NBA rule, active players must make themselves available to media after games.

“It’s up to us, honestly,” Westbrook said when asked how the team is going to turn the corner. “Just gotta figure it out and play the same way every night.”

The Thunder have a challenging three-game road trip ahead, with George’s first game back in Indiana looming on Wednesday (8 ET, ESPN). From there, OKC takes on the playoff-hungry Philadelphia 76ers (7 ET, ESPN) and New York Knicks (7:30 ET, NBA TV) on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

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