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OKC Thunder: To Oklahoma City, the jumpers all looked prettier at closing time

LAKERS 114, THUNDER 106 — Oklahoma City's willingness to settle for good shots instead of working for great ones cost the Thunder dearly in this double-overtime loss Sunday in Los Angeles.
by Darnell Mayberry Modified: April 22, 2012 at 6:22 pm •  Published: April 22, 2012

LOS ANGELES — They want you to believe they just missed shots.

They want you to believe it happens and it's no big deal.

The problem is those excuses no longer hold water. They ran their course long ago.

The Thunder blew a 17-point, fourth-quarter lead Sunday against the Los Angeles Lakers inside Staples Center and fell 114-106 in a double-overtime decision that it had thoroughly dominating for the first three quarters.

“We got cold when we needed to stay hot,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks.

Sound familiar?

Once again, a severe offensive drought doomed the Thunder. This time, it was a 9-for-36 shooting performance in the fourth quarter and overtime. This time, the Lakers outscored the Thunder 53-29 in the final 22 minutes.

And this time, it all but sealed the Thunder's fate as the 2-seed in the Western Conference.

“We were taking jump shots,” Brooks said.

And tons of them…obviously with very few of them falling.

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined to shoot 14-of-56 for the game. In the fourth quarter and overtimes, the Thunder's All-Star duo went 6-for-28. Durant was 5-of-19 over that span.

“It wasn't out of poor execution,” Brooks maintained. “We got good looks. Normally we make those shots. And I'll take those next game.”

With spark plug James Harden nursing a concussion in the locker room from halftime on, the Thunder was missing its best playmaker when it mattered most and struggled mightily as a result. But even without the projected Sixth Man of the Year, the Thunder should have held on to a 79-62 lead with 10 1/2 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Had it done so, the Thunder would have wrapped up this five-game road trip with an impressive 4-1 record heading into the final two regular season games.

Instead, the Thunder dropped to 3-2 on the trip, fell 1 1/2 games behind San Antonio for the top seed and, worst of all, now must enter the postseason facing familiar questions about its ability to close out games.

This was the third straight loss the Thunder suffered because it simply couldn't close the door. It was the second time in seven days that the Thunder collapsed in this building. Last Monday, OKC scored just 25 second-half points against the Clippers in a 92-77 defeat. And in a two-point loss to the Clippers on April 11, the Thunder scored just nine points in the final seven minutes, making just 2-of-7 shots over the final 6 1/2 minutes while turning it over twice.

“I'm not worried at all,” Brooks said of the team's continued offensive struggles. Sunday's box score: Lakers 114, Thunder 106 (2OT)

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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