“Nobody is moping around, nobody is frustrated. I think guys are angry. I think guys are pissed,” Anthony said. “That just comes from your competitive nature, wanting to win games — understanding what we have over here, the talent level that we have over here and not being able to put it together right now. So that’s where the anger comes in at.
“I think in this game you almost have to be angry when you’re losing basketball games. The way we’re losing basketball games, it’s more on us than anybody else. The anger part comes in, and I think when you’re angry you show that you care. It’s different than being frustrated. Being angry and being frustrated are two different things.”
After emphatically beating the defending champion Golden State Warriors a week ago, the Thunder have dropped three straight, including consecutive blowout losses to the Dallas Mavericks and Orlando Magic, who snapped a nine-game losing streak with their win over OKC.
That was the Thunder’s seventh straight road loss and it marked their second three-game losing streak this season.
“This is not frustrating,” Anthony said. “Because we know what we have and we know what we can be and we know when we do it the results that we get.
“It pisses us off, it makes us angry when we’re not getting the results that we want. We’re putting in the work but we’re not getting the results, and I think that’s where the anger comes in at. We’re angry that we’re losing and we’ve got to stop that, but I’ve been on teams before we’ve dropped three, dropped four, dropped 10, dropped 12, and after a couple games the frustration level just gets higher and higher. And I wouldn’t say anybody’s frustrated in here.”
Following Wednesday’s loss to the Magic — a 121-108 defensive dud, during which the Thunder allowed nearly 60 percent shooting — Russell Westbrook sat on the bench for an extended amount of time after the final buzzer with his head down and teammates and coaches consoling him. In the locker room, Westbrook told reporters he was taking the blame for the way the Thunder have played.
“It just started with a sense of urgency, man,” Westbrook said. “And that starts with me. It’s my responsibility to make sure we’re ready to play, we’re ready to play on both sides of the ball. To get us out of this funk, we’ve gotta lock in. I take ownership of everything that’s going on because I’ve been here and those standards that we set here in Oklahoma City, I have to set them and set examples. It starts with me and we’re gonna turn this thing around.”
Asked about Westbrook shouldering the responsibility, Anthony said he sympathizes, but emphasized the Thunder are very much in it together despite their struggles.
“He’s angry, I don’t think he’s frustrated, he’s angry at the way we’re playing and what we’re doing,” Anthony said. “I think as a leader of any situation you always want to take the onus on yourself. Trust me, I’ve done it for 14 years of my career and I know what that feels like. But this is different. We cannot allow him to take all of this by himself. We’re in it together. We win together, we lose together and it’ll be fun again for us.”
After practice on Thursday, Westbrook was the last player on the floor as he lay on his back, talking with assistant coach Maurice Cheeks and assistant general manager Troy Weaver. The mood was light and energetic, with Westbrook ribbing coach Billy Donovan after his media session went more than 20 minutes long.
“Thirty minutes, bro!” Westbrook jokingly yelled as Donovan walked over to the group following his availability.
“Consistency” has been the buzzword around the Thunder for almost a month now, with their potential revealed at times as a suffocating defensive team with offensive explosiveness, but their floor as a stagnant, isolating offensive mess. Presented with the thought that maybe a lineup change could do well as a spark, Anthony dismissed the notion.
“No, no. Hell no. No, not at all. We’re fine, man,” he said. “Like I said, it’s on us to figure how we’re going to be consistent. I think that’s our biggest downfall right now, we’re not a consistent team. Once we get that consistency and the way that we want to play and continue on that level of play throughout the course of the game, we’ll see that turnaround.”
With a net rating of plus-2.4 and a host of other metrics, the Thunder present as a team much better than 8-12. Close losses — 0-9 in games decided by eight or less — has been their downfall. They still rank third in defensive efficiency, but are a perplexing 22nd in offense. There has been a lot of talk how much time this new collection of stars might need.
“I think now is the time where we have to start making a decision on what type of team we want to be,” Anthony said. “The baby steps are out of the way, the first couple games of the season are out of the way. Now is the time to kind of buckle down take this thing to the next level.”
Asked if he has consulted with close friends LeBron James or Dwyane Wade about their early struggles in Miami when the Heat’s Big Three came together in 2010, Anthony said it hasn’t gotten to that point yet.
“It’s early. It’s still early. No time for anybody to panic or start making calls,” he said with a laugh. “We’ll figure it out. Trust me, we’ll figure it out.”