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Thunder Loss A Small Dose Of Reality

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The Oklahoma City Thunder lost for just the second time since Nov. 14 Sunday night, falling to Toronto, 104-98.

It was the first loss of the season for the Thunder at home, and it wasn't a pretty loss, either. Oklahoma City looked lethargic and apathetic, clearly suffering a hangover from a big win on the road against San Antonio on Saturday night.

The win over the Spurs was the cherry on the sundae that was the past month and a half of the Thunder's schedule. OKC had been beating a lot of teams, but hadn't gotten a quality road win yet. They were able to do that in San Antonio.

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However, Sunday night was a dose of reality and that reality is the Thunder are still a young team, capable of making silly mistakes and, in general, playing bad basketball.

The Thunder weren't good against Toronto. They turned the ball over 19 times while only distributing 17 assists. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook went a combined 13-of-33 from the field with 11 turnovers. Reggie Jackson, a night after absolutely shredding the Spurs, went 1-for-11 and scored just six points.

The past week has been filled with talk about whether or not this is the best OKC team since the team relocated from Seattle and speculation about Jackson playing his way out of Oklahoma City because the Thunder won't be able to pony up the money to pay him.

All that talk is well and good, but it's probably a bit wiser to pump the brakes a little. For the record, I do think this Thunder team is the best OKC has seen. The bench is deep and the stars are seasoned and ready to take the next step and win an NBA title.

However, it's silly to burden ourselves with those debates at this point in the year. This team is 27 games into an 82-game season, and the Thunder could go any number of directions at this point. Obviously, things are trending in a positive manner, but as last postseason illustrated, you just never know.

As for Jackson, he won't become a free agent until after next season, even though he is eligible for an extension after this season. Sure, it's the exact same predicament the Thunder faced with Serge Ibaka and James Harden two summers ago, but can we not just sit back and enjoy what Jackson has been able to do this season and how he's transformed into one of the better players in the entire league?

It's great to be optimistic, and it's fun to speculate, but it's more enjoyable—and probably healthier—to be realistic. Sunday shouldn't be viewed as reason to panic, even though it was a bad loss for OKC. It was simply a small dose of reality that this Thunder team still has some room to grow to be the best it can be.

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