They have a new city, new colors and a new name, but in their first game, the Oklahoma City Thunder looked suspiciously like their immediate predecessors, the Seattle SuperSonics.


They have a new city, new colors and a new name, but in their first game, the Oklahoma City Thunder looked suspiciously like their immediate predecessors, the Seattle SuperSonics.
The Thunder struggled with their shooting on Wednesday, particularly from 3-point range, committed 19 turnovers, didn’t play strong post defense and allowed the visiting Milwaukee Bucks to seize control early.
The result — a 98-87 loss to the Bucks — also was familiar for a franchise that finished 20-62 last season and hasn’t had a winning record since the 2004-05 season.
About the only difference was the enthusiastic sellout crowd of 19,136 at the Ford Center, who remained loud even late in the fourth quarter as the Thunder tried in vain to cut the Bucks’ lead below double digits.
“We had a lot of mistakes in that game,” forward Chris Wilcox said Thursday. “I think that the guys were nervous. The first home game, you can be so hyped sometimes that you waste too much of your energy before the game. I think maybe that was a little problem.
“There was just too much energy in the arena and the guys didn’t know how to handle it, especially for the first game, for us coming from Seattle, where most of the games last year we never had a sellout crowd. For us to have a sellout crowd, some people just really don’t know how to handle it.”
Coach P.J. Carlesimo cited many reasons, including 33.3-percent shooting in the first half, a 43-35 disadvantage in rebounding — including 14 offensive rebounds by the Bucks — and what he called a poor defensive effort.
“I don’t know what aspect of the game we didn’t get beat in,” he said.
“I’m not discouraged. I’m disappointed. We know we’re a lot better than we played last night. We know we’re capable of playing better individually, and, certainly, collectively, but we didn’t do it. It’s still a game. It’s a big game ... but’s it one game. You’ve got to put it behind you and move on to the next one.”
One of the few bright spots for the Thunder was its bench play. Wilcox led Oklahoma City with 15 points and 7 rebounds, and two other reserves also scored in double figures — Desmond Mason (11) and rookie guard Russell Westbrook (13).
Veteran forward Joe Smith added eight points as the Thunder’s bench outscored the starters 51-36.
Carlesimo said immediately after the game that “we may just have to make some decisions and kick some people out of the rotation,” but he said Thursday that there is no reason to make wholesale lineup changes one game into the season.
“We have 82 games, so we’re not going to change after every game,” Carlesimo said. “We’re probably going to let it go a little bit and see and then try to make an intelligent decision. It probably wouldn’t be real intelligent to, every game, just to see what happens and change it.”
He wouldn’t reveal what his starting lineup will be Saturday, when the Thunder visits the Houston Rockets, saying it’s “a work in progress.” He said he’ll decide after evaluating game film from Wednesday and the team’s subsequent practices.
One player sure to start Saturday will be guard Kevin Durant. Last season’s Rookie of the Year didn’t score in the first half and finished with 12 points of 5-of-14 shooting. He missed all three of his 3-point attempts as the Thunder went 1 of 6 from long range and never seemed to establish an offensive rhythm.
“I think that we can execute a little bit more,” Durant said. “We’ve been running those plays for a couple of weeks now, so it should be good in our minds. Hopefully, next game we can come out and do a better job of that.”
Wilcox — one of only four players on the roster with six years or more of NBA experience — said the Thunder’s players are eager to make the most of a fresh start in a new town and to put their previous losing ways behind them.
“This is a crucial time for us, because the expectation is that we’re a young team that’s just trying to grow and trying to develop,” he said. “But right now, we’re trying to win.
“You’ve got to start fresh. We’ve got a lot of new, young guys. You’ve got to learn first. You’ve got to teach them different game strategies and things like that. Right now, it’s just kind of tough for us, because everyone on the team is young. ... But at the same time, we’ve got to learn that we can’t use age to say that’s why we’re losing games, because that’s not a fact.”