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OKC Thunder: Kevin Durant looks in mirror, sees a player who can do more

That's the burden Durant now carries as a star without a sidekick. He finds himself in the unenviable position of having to do more.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: May 12, 2013

Yet, somehow, Durant has managed to fight off frustration.

“I love my teammates,” Durant said. “It's easy to love them when things are going well. So I love them no matter what.”

In the next breath, Durant then put the onus on himself, as if enough weren't already on his shoulders.

“I have to put them in better positions,” he said. “I have to make shots to free them up. I have to continue to help their confidence grow every time down. I got to do a better job. That's how I look at it … Missed shots or made shots, they're still my teammates and I'm still going to believe in them and trust in them.

“I have full confidence that they're going to come out — we're all going to come out — next game with a different mindset of just playing even harder than we did last game.”

If a valid criticism of Durant exists it would be his two subpar performances down the stretch. He didn't score in the final three minutes of Game 2, which the Grizzlies went on to steal in Oklahoma City. And he netted just two points on 1-for-4 shooting in the fourth quarter of Game 3.

“I missed shots. It's no excuses. I just missed shots … Shots I have to make for my team. I felt bad not coming through for us last game. It's tough to really swallow. But I had to embrace that and take it head on and learn from it. But I felt worse than anybody for not coming through for my guys, especially when it was a game that we could have won.”

Hard to be the closer when you're also playing the role of starter, reliever and setup man.

But that's what Durant is now being asked to do.

By embracing and, by and large, excelling at each mounting responsibility, Durant has elevated his game to the point he is now playing what is undoubtedly the best ball of his career.

Regrettably, he's been a one-man band and it's left the best performer in this postseason two losses away from exiting stage right.

“I have the ultimate faith, man,” Durant said. “And I'm looking forward to the next game.”