Shockingly, the missed foul shots belonged to Durant, who again valiantly did it all without the services of sidekick Russell Westbrook. Durant scored 25 points with 11 rebounds, earning him game-high honors in both categories, and dished five assists with three steals in 46 minutes.
But Durant's finish was borderline brutal. He also missed a 7-footer that would have tied the game with 56 seconds remaining, and after making six of his first eight shots Durant finished 3-for-11 from the floor.
Immediately after Durant’s missed jumper, Jackson fouled Conley 80 feet away from the basket, almost at the exact same time that Thunder coach Scott Brooks stood near the scorer’s table screaming at Jackson not to foul. It was the Thunder’s second foul in the final two minutes, which automatically awarded Memphis two free throws. Conley made both.
“I seen (Quincy) Pondexter wasn’t looking,” Jackson explained. “He was just going to throw it to Conley. I tried to get a steal. As my hand was still in there, Conley did a great job of locking it up and drawing the foul. So that was a good play on his behalf.”
Brooks, as he generally does, refused to blame the loss on Jackson’s admitted ill-advised plays.
“He had a great game,” Brooks said. “Unfortunately that (charge) was a mistake that he wishes he could get back. But that one play did not decide the game.”
The team’s paltry accuracy in the previous 47 minutes was much more significant.
The Thunder shot just 36.4 percent — 33.3 percent in the second half — and again got little help from role players. Jackson, who made seven of 15 shots, was the only Thunder player other than Durant to make at least 40 percent of his shots.
Everyone else combined to go 16 of 54 (29.6 percent) from the field.
“It's frustrating, but we can't hang our heads,” Durant said. “We just got to keep playing and keep improving. Just learn from it. Embrace the tough times and get better from it.”