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Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook have to keep their cool

It’s easy to understand frustration — the Thunder got its doors blown off, 112-77, and finds itself in a 2-0 hole in the Western Conference Finals — but the boys in blue seem to be fraying a bit mentally. It’s one thing to lose. It’s another thing to lose your cool.
by Jenni Carlson Published: May 22, 2014

No wonder composure from guys in Thunder uniforms is faltering.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks said after the game that the dust-up between Durant and Westbrook was born out of defensive mistakes late in the second quarter. The Thunder had watched a five-point deficit balloon to 11 after Green hit a couple threes.

Brooks contended that he likes the type of frustration he saw from Durant and Westbrook.

“It’s on the defensive end,” Brooks said. “We gave up some threes, and we wanted to make sure that did not happen going forward. I like that. I like that they were frustrated that we gave up those threes.”

Fair enough. You have to have passion. You have to care. No one is questioning whether Durant cares or whether Westbrook has passion.

But every player on this team looks to Durant and Westbrook. How are they acting? How are they reacting? And when they came to the huddle yelling at each other, their teammates had to wonder if maybe it was time to panic.

The Thunder clearly didn’t respond well after that point. They finished the half with a couple more turnovers and no more points while giving up another Spur three.

And the collapse continued in the second half with another 13-4 spurt by the Spurs.

Durant and Westbrook combined to score the Thunder’s next eight points after their confrontation — but it took them nearly eight minutes to score those eight points. Think about how many times we’ve seen those guys score that many points in a minute or so.

“You’re not going to stop them,” Spurs point guard Tony Parker said. “We know they’re going to keep being aggressive, and they’re going to score some points. We just try to make sure they take a lot of shots to score those points.”

Wednesday night, Durant and Westbrook needed 40 shots to score 30 points.

So, yes, they have to be better on the court, but as much as anything, they have to be on top of their games in the locker room, on the practice court and in the film room these next few days. For this team to turn this series, it has to stick together and stay strong, and that emanates from their leaders.

Losing your cool won’t cut it.

Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.

by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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