LOS ANGELES — Kevin Durant said it felt the same. Said this playoff stage seemed like just another game.
But who believes him? Who believes that a 21-year-old who over five months has gone from star to supernova didn’t feel the weight of the NBA world on his spindly shoulders as he walked into the Staples Center on Sunday?
For the Thunder to scare the world’s most famous basketball team, to avoid turning into a caviar appetizer for the Lakers’ celebrity crowd, to take this series back to Oklahoma City with a sliver of hope for an historic upset, Durant has to play well.
And he didn’t. Durant stunk up the Staples Center in the Thunder’s 87-79 loss Sunday.
Missed the game’s opening shot, a 19-footer. Then missed his easiest shot of the night, a lob-pass layup. And finally threw up a wayward prayer hoping to get a foul call on that rip move he’s trotted all over the league. No whistle. All in the first four minutes.
By game’s end, Durant had his fourth-worst shooting game of the season, 7-of-24, and 24 hollow points. Twenty-four points on 24 shots is not winning basketball, and Durant knew it.
The Thunder "could have come here and got a W,” Durant said. "If I make four or five more shots, maybe it’s a different game.”
Durant tossed out a variety of words to describe his NBA playoff debut. Tough. Discouraging. Frustrated.
"I got some great looks, and I wasn’t able to make them,” Durant said. "That’s discouraging. I was frustrated. I kept missing shots that looked good when they left my hand.”
Not all the misses were artistic treasures. Durant launched a couple of air balls and also had a few emotion-induced wild shots.
"There were stretches of the game he was pressing, there’s no doubt,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "It wasn’t because he was nervous. He was frustrated. Kevin’s a prideful player. I like the fact that he’s frustrated.
"He just has to realize there’s gonna be nights when he doesn’t score.”
And while Kobe Bryant wasn’t much better for the Lakers — 6-of-19, 21 points — check the rosters.