No-nonsense Thunder center Kendrick Perkins said he didn't like the body language of teammates during the closing minutes of Wednesday night's 100-98 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
“They took the lead and we act like the game was over with six minutes to play in the game,” Perkins said Thursday morning at the team's practice facility. “It was like a one- (or) three-point game. We were at home, and I didn't feel like we had the right fight or the right mindset to keep going. We're not going to blow everybody out or win by 10 points every night. Some nights, you've got to go get games, and I felt like that was one of those nights that we had to dig deep and go get it."
OKC coach Scott Brooks said he noticed the same and mentioned it during the media timeout at the 3-minute mark.
“Usually, we have great energy, great spirit, great enthusiasm,” Brooks said. “I think it was a notch below throughout the night. I thought it was just a step below of where we like it to be.”
Perkins said there was no need to mention his concerns to teammates after the loss inside Chesapeake Energy Arena.
“I don't have to say too much around here as far as disciplining guys about their mindset,” said Perkins, who at age 27 already is in his ninth NBA season. “You come in (Thursday), practice is at 11 (a.m.), and you've got seven guys who were in here at 8:45 working on their game, so you don't really have to say much. It's kind of like one of those things that's known. It's kind of a don't-have-to-be-said type mentality around here.”
Kevin Durant missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer with 1.9 seconds left against the Clippers.
Durant came off a screen, caught a pass from Russell Westbrook, squared up, had an open look and immediately shot over late-arriving Clippers center DeAndre Jordan.
Afterward, Durant said it wasn't the shot he was looking for. “He (Jordan) was playing off me a little bit and it got clogged up,” Durant said. “I didn't want to risk a turnover, so I shot it.”
Usually, Durant is banged hard while trying to free himself during last-second heroics. Passing up an open look wouldn't make sense, especially for a two-time scoring champ shooting 50.0 percent from the field on the season and 39.5 percent from 3-point range this month.
“The reason he said it wasn't a good shot is because he didn't make it. Seriously,” Perkins said with a smile. “He could have did a lot of things, but what kind of shot would he have got – a one-dribble pull-up with a contested hand? It was a good shot.
“KD is just going to be hard on himself, but it was a good shot. You take him shooting that ball anytime.”
Win or lose, Durant rarely is satisfied with his play.
“That's what makes him a special player,” Brooks said. “He's not satisfied. Even when he plays well, he's always looking for areas he could improve. That's what makes him and actually makes our team better.”
HIGH ON HARDEN
In the last 20 games, Thunder sixth man James Harden is shooting 52.8 percent (104 for 197) from the field, including 46.8 percent (44 for 94) from 3-point range.
In his 55 appearances off the bench this season, Harden has scored in double-figures 52 times.
The Thunder is 12-1 when Harden scores 20-plus and his 16.7 scoring average leads all NBA reserves.
Only eight games remain in the regular season, with three at home and five on the road: Sacramento on Friday at 7 p.m. at Chesapeake Energy Arena; at Minnesota at 7 p.m. Saturday; at the Clippers at 9:30 p.m. Monday; at Phoenix at 9 p.m. Wednesday; at Sacramento at 9 p.m. next Friday; at the Los Angeles Lakers at 2:30 p.m. on April 22; against Sacramento at The Peake on April 24 at 7 p.m.; and against Denver at The Peake on April 25 at 7 p.m.
“I see these next two games and they should be wins for us,” Perkins said. “I'm not guaranteeing anything, but they're supposed to be wins for us. We've got to take care of business. Then we get our little rematch Monday against the Clippers.”
As for playing the Kings three times in 11 days, Brooks said he and his staff will review the season's earlier meeting – a 106-101 loss at Sacramento on Feb. 9 – on Thursday and show footage to the team on Friday morning.
“We will address some of the things that bothered us, that hurt us in the (previous) game,” Brooks said. “Three times in 11 nights, we're just worried about the first time (Friday's game)."
TIME magazine writer Sean Gregory is in town working on a Durant piece. Gregory has written sports with TIME and TIME.com for the last decade, covered the Linsanity story earlier this season and is coming off work at the Final Four and Masters.
A television crew from the Spanish network Deportes Univision did a lengthy interview Thursday with Thunder forward Serge Ibaka.
The Thunder had only film session Thursday, but several players were seen doing individual work on the practice courts afterward. … In 58 games this year, OKC is limiting its opponent to 96.3 points on 42.6-percent shooting. Through the first 58 games last season, the Thunder allowed 102.2 points and 46.6-percent shooting. … OKC is 55-20 with Perkins as a starter since last year's trade with Boston. … The Thunder has won five straight at home against the Kings.
Perkins on the playoffs: “Once the playoffs start, everybody has the same record anyways – 0-0. Last year, you had the Spurs going into the playoffs winning however many in a row (57-13 at one point in the season) and stuff happens (Top-seeded San Antonio lost 4-2 in the opening round to No. 8-seeded Memphis). I'm not trying to jinx us, but things happen.”