The Thunder beat the Suns 122-118 in overtime Sunday night. No thanks to another exasperating last-possession play, Kevin Durant's 20-foot pull-up jumper that clanged off the rim and sent us all to overtime.
Not to be picky, Scotty Brooks — the Thunder is not that far removed from a 23-win season — but any chance we can see a little variety in the final possession of close games?
A Russell Westbrook or James Harden drive? Durant curling off a screen? A pick'n pop with Serge Ibaka? Heck, Thabo Sefolosha from the corner. Anything but another Durant drive on the wing, usually against a ferocious defender who forces Durant wide and no closer to the basket.
“I feel like I got a good look at it,” Durant said. “I'd take that shot nine times out of 10. That's a shot I work on in practice.”
With Grant Hill's 38 years of whiskers draped all over you?
“He still got the ball and got a shot off,” said Hill, “Guys like him, good defense is not going to affect him. If I was really good, I would have denied him the ball.”
Don't believe it. Hill's defense allowed Durant to go nowhere near scoring position. Durant's shot was a prayer, and it's only his amazing ability that allowed it to have a chance.
In all fairness, Durant nailed much that same shot against the Knickerbockers a couple of months back. But for the most part, the Thunder's addiction to a Durant drive isn't working in the final 10 seconds of games. We've seen it repeatedly over this season.
Brooks called the shot “decent. Wasn't great.” He called a set play which ended up with Durant in a one-on-one isolation against Hill, far from the hoop.
Brooks also called the situation one of the toughest plays in the NBA. He noticed the ABC graphic during the Heat-Bulls game Sunday that showed the lack of last-possession success.
“A lot of teams shoot bad percentages,” Brooks said. Defenses “scout. They do a good job bodying up.”
Durant offered up a basketball tutorial. That great curl play of his isn't available late, he said, because defenders switch on screens.
“You rarely get a catch-and-shoot situation late in the game,” Durant said.
OK. But still, can't the Thunder try something else? Anything else?
Especially on a night when Durant had made only three baskets (on 12 shots; he finished 3-of-14).
Brooks is right. This is a leaguewide problem. Tired of the Thunder's last-possession failures? Try being a Heat fan. LeBron James has a nice little streak going of last-second futility.
But the Thunder seems to be falling too easily into the Heat trap that the reigning superstar has to take the final shot. That's nonsense. Maybe that's why the league success rate is low. Too much reliance on the bellcow.
Durant is OKC's best offensive player, but Westbrook is an all-star and Harden is a gamer. Give those guys a little love. It might just relieve some defensive pressure off Durant.
“Everybody needs to do a better job, including myself,” Brooks said.
Oh, well. Maybe next time.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.