DALLAS — He clanged one shot after another off the iron and dribbled the ball off his big, goofy feet and chucked the ball to the wrong team and tried to draw a foul on his rip move though it was obvious the refs weren't buying it, and you wanted to strangle Kevin Durant.
Admit it, Thunder fans. You were miffed at your superstar Monday night. You were peeved. You were hacked.
How could he play so poorly in so big a game?
Then Durant walked into the postgame interview room in the bowels of the Oklahoma City Arena looking like someone had stolen everything out of his signature backpack. He sat down, propped his head in his hand and told the world that he'd disappointed an entire population.
“I let the city down,” he said.
How can you stay mad at Durant when he says stuff like that?
As much as he frustrated Thunder fans with his performance on the court in Game 4 — he finished with 29 points and 15 rebounds but committed nine turnovers and made only four shots in the final 48 minutes of the game — he endeared the faithful even more with what he did afterward.
Saying that he let down the city? Looking as despondent as any fan? Feeling the same dejection? Enduring the same pain?
That resonates in this city, which has lived and died with each Thunder game in these playoffs.
A little piece of Durant died, too, with that fourth-quarter, series-changing meltdown.
On the eve of Game 5, he was still down in the dumps about the loss. His head drooped. His shoulders sagged.
Even blinking his eyes seemed an effort.
“Terrible,” he said. “Terrible.”
Maybe there'll come a day when a playoff loss won't hurt quite so bad. In a few years, after all, the playoffs will be routine. The highs after wins won't be so high, and the lows after losses won't be so low. With experience comes perspective.
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