LOS ANGELES — Kevin Durant could have simply walked out of the Thunder locker room Monday night without saying another word, but Durant faces his inquisitors win or lose.
The Lakers beat the Thunder 101-94 on Martin Luther King Day inside Staples Center, where Durant's recent dead-eye shooting suddenly went dead.
The LA way of thinking believed it was solely due to the defensive clamps applied by Lakers forward Ron Artest, a physical defender who gave Durant fits during the first round of last year's playoffs (see chart).
The Lakers ended the series in Game 6 in Oklahoma City, where Durant shot 5-of-23 from the floor. Monday was the first meeting between the teams since then and Durant misfired at 8-for-23.
“Ron is physical,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said of Artest. “He's always in your face. He's never going to give you a lot of room to operate, that's why he's the special defender that he is. He's not going to give KD any easy shots.”
Durant gave Artest some credit Monday, but not all of it.
“We got some good looks,” Durant said.
The Thunder shot 2-for-22 from 3-point range, and Durant was 1-for-8. It was a streaky night for Durant, who missed his first two shots of the game, made his next four, missed his next eight, made his next two … you get the idea.
“We had some good opportunities,” Durant said.
For several minutes in his postgame interview session, Durant essentially was asked the same question, though the words were rearranged a bit.
Kevin, talk about the defense the Lakers played against you? Did they do anything special defensively? Why did you struggle against the defense? Do you think their defense caused your problems?
A string of inquiries came from the same guy, who either forgot he already had asked the question, was a lousy listener, or flat-out didn't want to accept Durant's answers. That same inquisitor later addressed Jeff Green as “Russell” with his initial question.
KEVIN DURANT VS. LAKERS
(2010 PLAYOFF SERIES)