The Oklahoma City Thunder’s season came to an end Friday night after losing game 6 in the series to the Utah Jazz. The final score was 96-91.
It was a hard, back and forth battle between the two teams: If the Thunder had won, the series would be tied 3-3 and would force game 7 in Oklahoma City.
“Obviously it was a win or go home situation for us. We just tried to give ourselves a chance to stay in there and win the game,” said Russell Westbrook. “Every night I play man, I leave it on the floor. Regardless of win, lose, or draw. But that’s my job to bring my energy, my aggressiveness throughout the game for my team.”
Paul George said it came down to “scrappiness” and finding a way to get back into the game. “We played sloppy, but we hung in there and gave it everything we had to close it out,” George said.
Following the loss, the whole team had end of the season interviews and reflected on what this past season taught and meant to them.
Half of the team roster had changed from the previous season to this one, and head coach Billy Donovan added that it was a concern, wondering what kind of chemistry the team would have playing together.
He said the team’s biggest struggle this season was consistency and that they would play at an “elite level” with other elite teams, but would fall short to “non-playoff” teams.
“Those are things that I think we have to work on and we have to get better at for the team,” he said. “These are, I think, lessons that you learn and grow from, but the biggest thing is how do you apply what you’ve learned and what you’ve grown from to make yourself and the group better the following year.”
Westbrook spoke about his relationship with Carmelo Anthony and Paul George, and how they learned from each other on and off the court.
“Those guys are somebody I can look up to,” he said. “Bonding as brothers was the biggest thing for me. Basketball is a short stint of your life, but friendships and different things like that go longer than that.”
Nick Collison, 37, whose career in the NBA is still unsure because he hasn’t confirmed if this was his last season or not, said the he’s been really blessed to have played this long in the league.
“I never thought I’d be able to be playing with partially gray hair,” he said.
George said his first year playing with the Thunder was “an adjustment” but went “really good.”
“I thought we set the bar on a lot of good games. A lot of quality wins. I think we set the bar on what we could be.”
George said it’s been an amazing year as a whole, praising the the fans, the love, and their energy. “[It’s] a lot to take with me and be happy about coming this summer.”