The Thunder entered Wednesday night's game as the NBA's top shooting team from the field at 47.5 percent.
OKC convincingly surrendered the top spot, misfiring at 40.8 percent in a 100-98 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers before a stunned sellout crowd of 18,203 at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Kevin Durant (7 for 21) and Russell Westbrook (3 for 14) shot a combined 28.6 percent from the floor.
“We missed some good shots,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “I can't complain. There are going to be nights and this is a classic example. … There's going to be nights you miss your shots. Kevin's not going to miss that many shots. Russell's not going to miss that many shots … but you have to have your defense. They have to have your back when you don't have your offensive game going and tonight they shot a high percentage and got too many points around the basket.”
Not only was OKC off the mark offensively, it was a half-step off defensively.
“It was tough. We didn't defend too well,” Durant said. “We missed some easy shots. That's how the game goes.”
All these shortcomings, yet the Thunder still had a chance to win. However, Durant's potential game-winning 27-footer with 1.9 seconds left went off the heel of the rim.
Durant had tied the score at 98 with a 3-pointer at the top of the circle with 32.2 seconds left and perhaps felt he had regained his shooting touch.
Though Durant had an open look on the final attempt, he admitted it wasn't the shot he was looking for.
“No, he was playing off me a little bit and it got clogged up,” said Durant, who finished with 22 points, nine rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocked shots. “I didn't want to risk a turnover, so I shot it.”
The game-winning shot came from L.A. point guard Chris Paul, who split three defenders and rattled in a layup with 8.8 seconds remaining.
Another key bucket came from Paul with 1:19 left in the game when he tapped in his own missed 5-footer to push the Clippers' lead to 98-93.
Paul finished with 31 points, six rebounds and four assists. He scored 24 points in the second half, shooting 8 for 11 from the field and 7 for 7 from the free-throw line.
“He has that competitive edge on just about everything,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said of Paul. “That was a big tip-in for us. His demeanor and his attitude and his approach in everything rubs off on guys. Tonight he was locked in.”
Former Oklahoma standout Blake Griffin, who had 16 points, 12 rebounds and a team-high seven assists, credited Paul for once again saving the game.
“This is why he is the best down the stretch to take over games for us,” Griffin said. “For him to be our guy down the stretch is perfect, but we all have to be ready to help him out if he gets caught up in a bad situation.”
OKC made it easy for the Clippers to chip away at the Thunder's lead, putting L.A. in the bonus at the free-throw line with 8:08 still left in the third quarter. The Clippers wound up shooting 14 for 14 from the line for the period.
Equally amazing, L.A. did not shoot any free throws in the final period and OKC wasn't called for a single foul.
The Clippers outshot OKC 47.8 percent to 31.6 percent in the fourth quarter. L.A. outscored the Thunder 15-10 on second-chance points for the game, which included a 5-0 margin the decisive fourth quarter when the Thunder was outscored 16-6 in the paint and went 3:46 without scoring a point.
“We are disappointed with how we played in the fourth quarter,” Thunder reserve forward Nick Collison said. “We had a lead and we weren't able to keep it. Hopefully we will play better.”