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OKC Thunder: Blowout losses not rare in NBA Playoff series openers

The Rockets routed the Thunder 123-108 Tuesday in Game 1 of their Western Conference playoff series. The loss was discouraging for the Thunder. But it's not a particularly new feeling for the franchise -- or any franchise, for that matter.

Playoff duds are not rare. Playoff opener duds are not rare. In the last 10 years, the Thunder five times has opened a series with a pitiful performance that made an entire state take stock of a team with high hopes.

Here are those five inexplicable defeats:

1. 2011 Memphis: The Grizzlies won 114-101 in the West semifinals, in OKC. Memphis, the eighth seed in the West, led 87-71 after three quarters. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph combined for 54 points and looked uncoverable. But the Thunder won the series in seven games.

2. 2014 LA Clippers: The Clips led 104-78 after three quarters and won 122-105, in OKC. Chris Paul scored 32 points, missed just two shots and had 10 assists. But the Thunder won the series in six games.

3. 2014 San Antonio: In the West finals, those grand old Spurs were at their best, winning Game 1 in San Antonio 122-105. Tim Duncan had 27 points. Manu Ginobili had 18. A young Kawhi Leonard had 16. Danny Green had 16. Tony Parker had 14. The Spurs won the series in six games.

4. 2016 San Antonio: In the West semifinals, LaMarcus Aldridge had 38 points on 18-of-23 shooting as the Spurs rolled 124-92 in San Antonio. But OKC rallied to win the series in six games.

5. 2017 Houston: In the West first round, James Harden had 37 points and nine assists as the Rockets rolled 118-97 in Houston. The Rockets won the series in five games, but the final four games were close.

So out of five blowout losses in playoff series openers, the Thunder rallied to win three of those series.

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Berry Tramel

Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,... Read more ›