Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant was in his home town Monday night playing the Washington Wizards, but following a stunning 101-99 loss at Verizon Center, the former high school star at Montrose Christian wasn’t in any mood to reminisce about growing up in the area.
The three-time scoring champion instead spent virtually all of his postgame time with the media discussing a lack of focus, energy and execution that doomed the Thunder to its second straight loss to the NBA’s last-place team in the nation’s capital.
“We were playing against a team that’s playing hard every game. They’ve got nothing to lose, and you can be beat,” Durant said. “We weren’t disciplined at all. We can’t have lapses like that.”
The 2006 All-Met Player of the Year did his part down the stretch to give the Thunder a chance despite trailing by nine points with 3 minutes 59 seconds left regulation. A pair of Durant free throws trimmed the margin to 95-92 with 2:30 to play, and shortly thereafter, Durant collected a rebound, dribbled across mid-court and reached the foul line.
From there he bounced the ball a few more times with Martell Webster defending before driving to the basket, elevating and dunking authoritatively with his right hand, drawing gasps from the announced crowd of 16,917.
The Wizards moved back in front by five when Webster countered with a three-pointer, but Serge Ibaka made a three-pointer for Oklahoma City. Ibaka’s basket gave him a career-high 25 points, and with less than 40 seconds to play, Durant had the ball in his hands again.
Moments later Durant’s three-pointer swished through, and the game was tied at 99.
“Kevin makes big plays for us on both ends of the floor,” Thunder Coach Scott Brooks said. “Offensively he’s always been a big shot-maker. He can make those shots. He doesn’t need a lot of space. He doesn’t need a lot of time.”
Durant finished with a game-high 29 points, and his eight assists matched teammate Russell Westbrook for the game high. Durant shot 9 for 19, made 9 of 10 foul shots and added seven rebounds and three steals.
His outburst in the closing stages came after the Thunder had just one field goal over a span of more than 12 minutes. Durant had been misfiring too, going 2 for 10 to finish the game for the defending Western Conference champions, who own the league’s second-best winning percentage.
“We let them stick around because we’re not taking it serious enough,” Durant said. “We can’t do that, man. We can’t do that, and it falls back on the leaders. We can be beat by anybody. Everybody’s going to bring their best against us. No matter who we’re playing, they want to beat us.”