Kevin Durant sat on the Thunder blue hardwood, his eyes glassy and his head bowed. Even as the Clippers celebrated on the court after the final buzzer, he didn't move. It took a couple teammates to come across the court and help the Thunder superstar to his feet. This was an opportunity lost, and Durant knew it. Clippers 100, Thunder 98. On a night when the Thunder could've moved into the driver's seat in the race for the top spot in the Western Conference, it bungled away that chance. It not only lost a home game it should've won but also gave a gift to San Antonio. The Spurs got trounced on home hardwood by the Lakers — and Kobe Bryant didn't even play. San Antonio went with all of its big guns, but even though Los Angeles was playing without Kobe, it took a lead late in the first quarter and never trailed again. The Lakers led by as many as 26 points. It was a beatdown. That loss could've marked a shift in the struggle for Western Conference supremacy and the fight for homecourt advantage throughout the first three rounds of the playoffs. Instead, the Spurs remain the favorites to claim that top spot in the West. Even though they are a game behind the Thunder in the standings, they have played two fewer games. The Spurs also hold the tiebreaker, having won the season series against the Thunder. So, the Thunder finds itself still trying to find a foothold in the race to the top. The Boys in Blue insist they aren't fixated on winning the West. “You guys probably don't believe me, but I don't pay attention to the standings,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “If you start worrying about other teams, how they do, how they play night in and night out, you lose focus on what you do.” Now, Brooks admits that he looks at the scores every morning, reads through the box scores, even has NBA League Pass so he can watch whatever game strikes his fancy. But he isn't making coaching decisions based on where his team is in the standings. “I'm really focused on how well we play, and I didn't think we played well enough to win tonight,” he said. “We played in spurts.” No doubt about that. The Thunder had stretches where it was clearly the best team on the court, where it would hold Chris Paul and Blake Griffin and the rest of the Clippers in check, where it would get good shots and knock them down. But then almost as quickly, the Thunder would have a defensive lapse or six and miss a few shots and let the Clippers right back into it. Most egregious? Paul, who managed only seven points in the first half, scored 24 points in the second half. Twenty-four. Worse, he scored a pair of baskets in the lane in the last minutes of the game. The first came on a putback of one of his own shots when absolutely no one blocked him out. The second came on a drive to the basket when there was no help-side defense. It was as bad a defense as the Thunder has played this season. Granted, Paul has the skill to get to the basket like he did. But to have no one there to contest his shot, to put a body on him after a miss? That's unacceptable. Closing out games hasn't been a big bugaboo for the Thunder this season, but Wednesday, it didn't get the job done. “Happens,” Thunder guard James Harden said. “Can't be perfect every night.” If you want to finish atop the Western Conference standings, though, you might need to be. “We're not worried about that,” Harden said. “You're going to have to win games in the playoffs no matter who you play.” True, but in the West, the top seed has won the conference title and advanced to the NBA Finals 16 times since the current playoff format began in 1984. The odds are clearly in the top seed's favor. Those are chances the Thunder could've swung in its favor with a win against the Clippers. Wednesday night was an opportunity lost. The truth is, we may not know for a couple months just how much it will cost the Thunder.