ORLANDO, Fla. — Kevin Durant sat at his locker following Wednesday's gut-wrenching overtime loss at Memphis and offered a shocking reply to a basic question about how the Thunder can bounce back after two straight losses.
“We'll get a win in Orlando,” Durant said. “Simple.”
That wasn't the shocking part.
“It's a must-win game,” Durant added. “A must-win game.”
This is what it's come to for the Thunder. The defending Western Conference champion must now win against an Eastern Conference bottom feeder Friday night to restore the faith.
No matter how you slice it, it's a sad state of affairs for a team that at this point of the season should be focused solely on sharpening minor aspects before the postseason begins. Instead, the Thunder's expected desperation for a victory in Orlando will adequately depict the funk in which this team finds itself.
Oklahoma City owns an attractive 50-19 record heading into its matchup with Orlando. But that mark belies an ugly truth. Since the All-Star break, the Thunder is just 11-5, with a handful of those victories strangely supplying as much frustration as some of the defeats.
Also masked, but more discouraging, is how the Thunder has built its resume by feasting on bad teams. OKC is just 3-7 against San Antonio, Denver and Memphis, the three teams that join the Thunder with the top four records in the Western Conference. Not to mention the Thunder's 0-2 mark against Miami this season.
The Thunder's performance against the league's best, quite frankly, has done everything but inspire confidence in how the team will fare in the playoffs. Blowing out an Orlando team 33 games below .500 would end the two-game skid and tack on another victory to the Thunder's sparkling record. But in reality it will be little more than yet another hollow result in a season that quietly has been built on them.
Thunder at Magic
When: 6 p.m. Friday
Where: Amway Center
TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma (Cox 37/HD 722, DirecTV 679, Dish 441, U-Verse 754/HD 1754)
Radio: WWLS-FM 98.1, WWLS-AM 640
Three things to know
* This is the second and final meeting between the Thunder and Magic. The Thunder won the first game, 117-104, in Oklahoma City on March 15.
* The Thunder led by as many as 27 points in the first game against the Magic. Orlando stormed back in the second half and cut the deficit to four late in the game.
* Magic center Nikola Vucevic did not play in Orlando's last game because of illness.