Learning Opportunity

Thursday, May 26th 2011, 12:22 pm
By: News On 6

Originally Published: Apr 26, 2011 7:42 PM CDT

Grant Belcher
Oklahoma Sports Staff Writer

Oklahoma City – There are varying opinions among coaches as to just how much good a loss can do a team.

To some coaches, a loss is never acceptable nor beneficial.

To others, a well-timed loss can shake a team out of a rut and return it to playing basketball at its full potential.

Oklahoma City’s 104-101 loss to Denver on Monday night certainly wasn’t pretty, but it appeared that the Thunder players might have gotten a few things out of their systems.

You couldn’t turn a TV to a sports station on Tuesday without seeing them talk about Russell Westbrook’s performance. He shot just 12-of-30 (0-for-7 from 3) and had questionable shot selection down the stretch.

But every player has games like that sometimes, and what better time to get a rough game out of your system than when up 3-0 on an inferior team?

A game like that against the Lakers or Mavericks would have consequences much more dire than simply prolonging winning a series two days.

There’s a good chance Scott Brooks, Maurice Cheeks and any number of other staff members or teammates will go over film in detail with Westbrook and he will come out all the better for it.

Then, when the Thunder are knotted in a series with the Lakers, for example, Westbrook will have his experience to look back on and will handle the situation differently during a much more important time.

But Westbrook shouldn’t be the only one catching any flak from Monday’s loss on the road.

Plenty of Thunder players lost their temper. Scott Perkins pulled Kendrick Perkins from the game because of it.

Technical fouls over the course of the first four games might not matter, assuming OKC ends up clinching the series. But Thunder players will realize that they can matter, and perhaps will be more prone to avoid those situations as the postseason progresses.

So while it’s hard to measure whether Monday’s loss was indeed beneficial for Oklahoma City, it’s safe to assume that they will look like a new, refreshed and focused team again when Wednesday’s 8:30 p.m. tipoff rolls around.

Plus, when talking about the potential benefits of the loss, it’s hard to ignore perhaps the most significant one of all.

Thunder fans get an extra home game.