Kevin Durant turned his back to the bench during an on-court huddle and violently kicked a chair in frustration, nearly sending a Gatorade jug toppling over.
Sixty-one seconds were still showing on the game clock, but a foreign feeling had set in.
The Thunder, trailing by 11, didn’t have a chance and everyone knew it.
And when Oklahoma City had to accept the agony of impending defeat against the Cleveland Cavaliers, a team mired in turmoil this season, not even the mild-mannered franchise player could keep his emotions in check.
For the first time since its inaugural season, the Thunder is on a three-game home losing streak. An unforeseen 114-104 loss to the Cavs on Wednesday night inside Chesapeake Energy Arena marked the latest confounding performance for a team that has been floundering for much of February, and one that now can’t seem to figure out a remedy for its post-All-Star malaise.
Cleveland, playing on the second night of a back-to-back and without three integral rotation players, erased a 12-point, third-quarter deficit and took command with an authoritative 42-point fourth quarter.
Kyrie Irving, the Cavs guard who stole All-Star Game MVP honors away from Durant a week and a half ago, captained his team’s come-from-behind win with a dazzling display of shooting, playmaking and nearly impeccable game management. He scored 14 of his game-high 31 points in the fourth quarter, connecting on all three of his 3-pointers while adding three assists against one turnover and playing the period’s entire 12 minutes. He finished with nine assists, five rebounds and four steals, eliciting memories of the 35-point show he put on while dealing the Thunder a 115-100 road loss last February.
Irving, however, represented only the Thunder’s biggest problem.
Each one of Cleveland’s four other starters scored in double figures, the second straight game in which the Thunder has allowed an opposing first string such success.
On this night, that tally was particularly troubling seeing as how the Cavs were without Dion Waiters, C.J. Miles and Anderson Varejao, a trio responsible for more than a third of Cleveland’s offense.
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