After hoisting just 13 shots in Monday's road loss to San Antonio, forward Kevin Durant was asked about his most recent show of reluctance shooting the ball.
Durant defended his offensive performance despite the Thunder's 12-point loss and attempted to explain his preferred style of play.
“I can do whatever I want on the offensive end,” Durant said. “I can come down and take 30 shots. That's not the right brand of basketball for me, to just come down and shoot. It's not because of the defense limiting me to 13 shots. I could have shot more than that, but I was trying to make the right basketball play.”
Durant has maintained all season that in order for the Thunder to be at its best everyone must be involved in the offense and be constant threats to score. Durant has taken on more of a playmaker role in the wake of the Thunder losing James Harden. Durant this season is averaging a career-high 4.7 assists, or 1.2 more than last year's career best.
But while Durant seeks the right balance, his decision-making has been scrutinized on and off throughout the season. The reigning three-time scoring champion is attempting just 17.9 shots per game, the second fewest of his career and only 0.8 more per game than Durant attempted as a rookie. Durant ranks seventh in the NBA in shots per game behind Carmelo Anthony (21.6), Kobe Bryant (20.6), Rudy Gay (19.3), Russell Westbrook (18.8), Kyrie Irving (18.2) and LeBron James (18).
Since the All-Star break, Durant has become even more conservative, attempting 16.8 shots on average in the past 11 games. Durant is averaging 6.2 assists over that span, the most on the team.
RUSSELL WESTBROOK ON RECORD PACE
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Thunder is on pace to become only the second team in NBA history to have a scoring champion not take the most shots on his team.
With Westbrook (18.8) attempting more shots than current scoring leader Durant (17.9), the Thunder could join the 1954-55 Philadelphia Warriors as the only two teams with that distinction.
Neil Johnson won the scoring title for the 1954-55 season, but teammate Paul Arizin attempted two more shots per game that season.
DURANT TAKES BLAME FOR BENCH STRUGGLES
Durant shouldered the blame for the struggles of the Thunder's second unit in Monday's loss at San Antonio.
Oklahoma City's reserves were outscored 34-16 by their Spurs counterparts and watched San Antonio blow open the game both times they were called into action at the start of the second and fourth quarters.
“That's my fault,” Durant said. “I started the second quarter with the bench, and I didn't do a good enough job. That's on me to get those guys going. That's on me to be talkative on defense. That's on me to make sure they get open shots and shoot good shots myself. It wasn't those guys. That was on me. I've got to start off better for us to be a good team if I'm out there playing with the bench.”
MILLSAP BATTLING INJURY
Utah forward Paul Millsap has missed four of the past seven Jazz games with various injuries, and he is questionable for Wednesday's game against the Thunder.
Millsap scored 18 points with 10 rebounds and six assists in only 24 minutes in Utah's 15-point win over the Thunder on Feb. 12.
Utah defeated the Thunder, 109-94, in the last meeting but has lost seven of its past nine games. … Westbrook's 27 shots Monday were his third most this season. He attempted 28 shots in one game this year and 29 in another. The Thunder is 3-3 this season when Westbrook attempts 26 shots or more. … Oklahoma City is 20-1 at home against Western Conference opponents. … ESPN's broadcast crew for Wednesday's game against the Jazz will consist of play-by-play man Dave Pasch, analyst Hubie Brown and sideline reporter Heather Cox.