Kevin Durant watched the ball sailing over his outstretched hand and felt his stomach drop.
Something had been lost in translation, and Daequan Cook's inbounds pass landed in enemy hands. In less time than it takes to read the first couple paragraphs of this column, the Warriors nailed a pair of last-second shots and erased the Thunder's six-point lead.
Durant could hardly believe his mistake.
He apologized to Cook, then made up for it in overtime.
He wasn't about to let that blunder ruin his night.
On a night when Oklahoma City defeated Golden State 115-114 with some bonus basketball, Durant broke out of his self-proclaimed slump. He scored 39 points. He hit 13 of 23 shots and 10 of 12 free throws. But most importantly, he carried the freight in overtime, scoring eight of the Thunder's nine points.
“Felt good,” Durant said, smiling.
And you could see that it really did.
This was only the third time that Durant has scored at least 30 points in a game this month. By comparison, he had four 30-point games in the All-Star Break-shortened month of February and seven in the month of January.
Durant has struggled with his shot this month, had nights when he was 3 of 14 and 6 of 21 and 5 of 18.
No one has been more frustrated by it than the man himself. He figures he works too hard to struggle so badly. He's the guy, after all, who's at the far end of the practice gym working on things that he might actually use in a game while his teammates are horsing around shooting trick shots at the end of practice.
He's been annoyed. He's been angry. He's been through his own version of March Madness.
“I've been working hard,” Durant said. “I was in a little slump, but I stuck with it, kept working hard and shots started to fall.”
The thing is, even as Durant has been struggling, the Thunder has been winning. It left Oklahoma City heading for Phoenix for a game Wednesday night with a 13-2 record in March, by far this team's best month of the season.
This team has figured out different ways to win.
Sometimes, it uses a big night from Russell Westbrook like it did Sunday against Portland. Sometimes, it capitalizes on a balanced, seven-players-in-double-figures attack like it did Friday against Minnesota. Sometimes, it leans on the defense like it did against Charlotte in the first game of this now-completed six-game homestand.
That kind of variety makes the Thunder more dangerous than ever.
“That's the great thing about this team — every game, win or lose, we find ways to somehow push this team forward and get better,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said.
Lately, though, they're figuring things out as they're winning.
Good news for the Thunder as it closes out the regular season and prepares for the playoffs.
Bad news for the teams that stand in their way.
Yes, Durant needs to play more like he did Tuesday if the Thunder wants to make a deep playoff run. You can't have him going 4 of 21 and expect to win many playoff series.
But maybe this month has taught the Thunder than it doesn't have to put everything on KD in order to win.
Take the Thunder's last possession Tuesday. It put the ball in Westbrook's hands and gave him the option — drive to the basket or dish to Durant.
Westbrook went to the goal, got fouled and made the game-winning free throw.
“Having great teammates to lean on ... makes it a lot easier on me,” Durant said.
They have been picking him up when he's struggled, and Tuesday night, he returned the favor.
“Everybody goes through tests in life, and I guess that was one of them for me,” Durant said. “Glad it's over with.”
He raised an eyebrow.
“I hope it's over with.”
Even on this gray, overcast night, a star shone again.