The most efficient season in Kevin Durant's six-year career ended very inefficiently during Wednesday's 88-84 season-ending loss to the Memphis Grizzlies at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Durant became a member of the exclusive 50-40-90 club by shooting 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from 3-point range and 90 percent from the free-throw line during the regular season.
In Wednesday's season finale, Durant shot just 23.8 percent (5 for 21) from the field, 73.3 percent (11 for 15) from the line and went 0 for 4 from 3-point range. His 17-foot attempt to tie the game with 3.3 seconds remaining was off the mark.
It had a similar look to Durant's final game of the 2009-10 season, when the Thunder was eliminated at home in the first round against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Durant shot just 5 for 23 against the Lakers and 14 for 15 from the free-throw line. He finished with 26 points, six rebounds and three assists.
NO PITY FOR OKC
Memphis point guard Mike Conley said earlier in the series the Grizzlies would have rather have faced the Thunder with three-time All-Star guard Russell Westbrook.
Memphis coach Lionel Hollins was asked before Game 5 if he would have rather faced OKC with Westbrook in the lineup.
“I love where we are,” Hollins said.
Injuries are part of the NBA, and Hollins would know.
The Grizzlies were without forward Rudy Gay during the 2010-11 playoffs. Gay had shoulder surgery in mid-February. The No. 8-seeded Grizzlies beat No. 1-seeded San Antonio in the opening round before losing to the No. 2-seeded Thunder in seven games in the second round.
Westbrook tore the lateral meniscus in his right knee in Game 2 of the first round against Houston and underwent season-ending surgery three days later.
Memphis forward Tayshaun Prince said the fourth quarter was the time the Thunder missed Westbrook most, which explains why the Grizzlies often excelled late in games to close out the series with four straight victories.
“When they're missing a guy like Russell, and he hasn't missed any games throughout his whole career, you had that chemistry with him,” Prince said after Game 5. “(Replacement) Reggie Jackson had a helluva series, but the team's chemistry is not the same as it is with Russ. When it comes down to the fourth quarter, when it was time to really get things going, they missed Russ out there.”
With 5:07 left in the third quarter, Thunder reserve guard Derek Fisher attempted a 3-pointer against Memphis' Jerryd Bayless coming hard from his left.
When Fisher released the ball and it missed the mark, he looked at the referee, seemingly wanting a foul call against Bayless. Instead, the Grizzlies' Tony Allen was called for unsportsmanlike conduct after inadvertently throwing a T-shirt onto the court near Fisher's feet during the play.
Fisher was awarded three points, and Durant hit the technical free throw to pull the Thunder within seven, at that point their closest margin of the quarter.
What did Hollins say to Allen?
“The same thing I said to him when he didn't block out Durant on the shot. ‘What the hell are you doing?' ” Hollins said. “That was huge. They counted the three points and got a free throw. From that point on I think we scored four more points in the quarter.”
What did Thunder coach Scott Brooks tell his team prior to Wednesday's game?
“Enjoy the moment,” Brooks said. “This is a great opportunity for us. If you can't enjoy Game 5 in your own building with your back against the wall, you shouldn't be playing in this league. You're wasting your time, you're wasting your teammate's time, you're wasting your coaching staff's time. Everybody should be excited about tonight's game.
“And we fight 'til the end. They have us down, but not out. It's the first of four. I've said it many times. I've said it when we're up 3-1. it doesn't matter. You have to still play and fight and believe and we have a locker room of guys who are excited about tonight's game.”
As players and coaches from both teams shook hands on the court afterward, what remained of the sellout crowd at The Peake went into an “O-K-C” chant and gave Thunder players a standing ovation as they exited through a tunnel toward the team locker room.
Hollins said the crowd was partially responsible for OKC's fourth-quarter comeback.
“They were flowing off the crowd's energy because I know they were tired as we were,” Hollins said.