Kevin Durant shouldered the blame for the Thunder’s 98-96 loss to the Houston Rockets on Friday night, and, really, the second-year forward would have been wrong not to.
Durant scored a game-high 27 points with six rebounds and five assists, making 11 of 22 shots in 40 minutes. That final stat line, highlighted by 12 third-quarter points that rescued the Thunder from a 13-point halftime deficit, illustrates why Durant is considered a future star.
But it was Durant’s game-high seven turnovers, two of them in the final 1:21, that proved he’s still got a ways to go.
Even after the two late giveaways, Durant had a chance to tie the score at 95-all with less than 10 seconds left but missed left on a wide open 20-footer from the right wing. The Thunder fouled Tracy McGrady, who converted two foul shots for a four-point lead with 8.2 seconds to go and send Oklahoma City to 5-32.
"I blame that game on me,” Durant said. "It’s a learning experience. You hate to go through that at this time, especially when we’re trying to get a win. But that’s part of everybody’s growth.”
With his teammates struggling offensively throughout the game, Durant was looked upon to carry much of the scoring load down the stretch. But he made only one of four shots in the final frame.
After Yao Ming made two free throws to put the Rockets ahead, 95-93, Durant sliced through the lane and threw the ball away trying to thread the needle to a cutting Nick Collison with 1:21 left. Facing the same two-point deficit with 37 seconds left to play, Durant slipped on a drive while spinning toward the basket and watched the ball go out of bounds.
His final miss served as only a fitting ending to a forgettable fourth.
"We’re looking forward to watching film with him and adjusting to situations in the fourth quarter,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks.