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News » Thunder still thrills OKC

Thunder still thrills OKC

Thunder still thrills OKC
OKLAHOMA CITY When a team is 31 games below .500, as the Oklahoma City Thunder is after losing to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night, that team's fans typically express anger and frustration. Pessimism could permeate the arena. Attendance might wane. There seems to be no such unrest in Oklahoma City.

The vibe is completely positive. For the Laker game, a crowd of 19,136 packed the Ford Center. Since a 3-29 start, the Thunder has shown signs of progress, posting a record of 10-15. "Our guys can't wait to play home games. We know that we're going to have 19,000 fans cheering us on," Thunder interim coach Scott Brooks said. "You can tell that the fans are getting more connected every game. When they announce our starting lineup, the fans are really getting into it, and it gets louder each game. "People see the potential, and on top of the potential, they see the work ethic of the guys. You could have a (talented) young team, but if they are dogs and don't want to work hard, there's not much there. We have hungry guys who want to get better." Even as the Thunder (13-44) has a six-game losing streak and occupies last place in the Northwest Division, the OKC fans seem thrilled with membership in the NBA and encouraged by the future of a team driven by superstar-in-the-making Kevin Durant. "It helps to have fans who are knowledgeable about sports," Thunder television analyst Grant Long said. "This building process won't happen overnight. Fans respect the process, and they appreciate what they see right now. Later on, they'll witness the birth of something special here." Tuesday's game, won 107-93 by the Lakers, attracted the 10th sellout crowd in 30 Ford Center dates for the Thunder. Matched were the league's No. 3 scorer (Laker guard Kobe Bryant, with an average of 27.6 points) and No. 4 scorer (Durant, 26.2). Bryant scored 36 points against the Thunder, while Durant finished with 32. "This really is a partnership with the fans. They have a stake in this, just like we do," Thunder guard Earl Watson said. "We can compete and win games, and it all looks a lot better when you have big crowds. "If people around the league see that the Ford Center is filled up, then maybe they see that something interesting is happening here." In the 30-team league, Oklahoma City ranks 12th with an attendance average of 18,579. In 2005-07, when it was the temporary home of the New Orleans Hornets, Oklahoma City had comparable attendance figures. This season, the Hornets are 19th in attendance (16,754). "People are seeing the type of team that we are becoming," said Thunder guard Desmond Mason, sidelined for the rest of the season with a knee injury. "No one is happy with being a 13-win team, but everybody seems to see the potential for something pretty good here. We've had so many close games and a few buzzer-beaters. We're getting closer." Bill Haisten 581-8397 SUBHEAD: Despite team's struggles, fans excited about the future.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: February 27, 2009


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