Kevin Durant pressed his fingers into his closed eyelids.
In the hush of the Oklahoma City locker room, the Thunder superstar sat silently at his locker, hardly moving, barely able to lift his head.
It was one of those nights.
Mavericks 93, Thunder 87.
On a night that went from embarrassing to exhilarating to disappointing, the Thunder spotted the Mavericks a 23-point, first-half lead. Oklahoma City cut the lead to four points in the fourth quarter, but ultimately, the mountain was too high to climb in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals.
“We came close,” Thunder guard Thabo Sefolosha said. “We weren't able to quite make it.”
Dirk Nowitzki had a lot to do with that. Even though he scored only 18 points — 30 points less than he had in Game 1 — the Mavericks star had 10 of those points in the fourth quarter.
His basket with 42 seconds remaining pushed the Dallas lead to eight points and gave the Mavs the cushion that they needed.
The Mavs now have a 2-1 lead in this best-of-seven series.
Game 4 begins at 8 p.m. Monday in Oklahoma City.
Two nights after shooting 55.4 percent from the floor, the Thunder managed only 12 points in the first quarter and shot just 29.4 percent in the first half as the Mavs built that big first-half lead.
The Thunder warmed up in the second half but still managed to shoot only 36.5 percent.
The worst of it: 1 of 17 from behind the three-point line.
“Those were shots we usually make, especially at home,” Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook said. “Tonight's just one of those nights that we couldn't knock anything down.”
Westbrook made the Thunder's lone three in the fourth quarter. Had he not finally hit one, Oklahoma City would've had the worst three-point shooting percentage in an NBA playoff game.
The previous worst was Utah's 0-for-14 night against Houston during the 2008 playoffs.
No one clunked more threes than Durant, who was 0 of 8. He finished with 24 points but was 7 of 22 from the floor.
But more than anything, that slow start sunk the Thunder.
“I think we were missing shots because the energy wasn't there,” Sefolosha said. “We didn't come out the way we wanted to.”
Said Westbrook, who led the Thunder with 30 points, “They came out and just played harder from the get go. We wasn't ready to play from the start, and it was kind of too late in the second half for us to pick it up.”
How does that happen in the playoffs?
“I dunno,” Westbrook said with a head shake. “I don't really know, but it's something we have to try to stop.”