OKC Thunder: Kevin Durant's fourth-quarter struggles contribute to loss

Durant is the superstar who gets deserved credit with every win, and he's the MVP candidate whose shoulders the game is often thrust upon in crunch time.
by Anthony Slater Published: January 2, 2014
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photo - Thunder's Kevin Durant (35) blocks a shot by Brooklyn's Kevin Garnett in an NBA basketball game where the Oklahoma City Thunder were defeated 95-93 by the Brooklyn Nets at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman
Thunder's Kevin Durant (35) blocks a shot by Brooklyn's Kevin Garnett in an NBA basketball game where the Oklahoma City Thunder were defeated 95-93 by the Brooklyn Nets at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman

In both of the past two games, the Thunder has entered the fourth quarter with a relatively comfortable lead.

And in each of those disappointing losses, the Thunder has imploded down the stretch, culminating with Thursday night's 97-95 buzzer-beating defeat to the 11-21 Brooklyn Nets.

For those collapses, there's plenty of blame to go around.

But when identifying those culpable, it all starts with Kevin Durant. He's the superstar who gets deserved credit with every win, and he's the MVP candidate whose shoulders the game is often thrust upon in crunch time.

And lately, that hasn't produced many positive results for the Thunder.

Against Portland, Durant went 0-of-5 in the fourth quarter, taken out of his game by the physical Nicolas Batum. OKC blew a seven-point lead.

On Thursday, he scored four points on only three fourth quarter shots, continually deferring to his teammates when Brooklyn flashed double teams. OKC blew an 11-point lead.

Combined, Durant went 2-of-8 shooting for five points in 20 minutes the past two fourth quarters. And combined, the Thunder has been outscored 56-32.

“Our spacing was poor,” a frustrated Durant said. “They did a good job of loading up. I just got to be stronger … I got to figure it out. I got to watch film.”

And when he watches film, he'll see an all-too-familiar sight. It'll look a lot like the playoffs last season, after the Russell Westbrook injury, when the Grizzlies threw extra attention, extra defenders and extra pressure at Durant, stagnating the Thunder offense.

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by Anthony Slater
Thunder Beat Writer
Anthony Slater started on the Thunder beat in the summer of 2013, joining after two years as NewsOK.com's lead sports blogger and web editor. A native Californian, Slater attended Sonoma State for two years before transferring to Oklahoma State in...
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