Kevin Durant won’t admit it, but he’s tired. And when you’re tired, you don’t have the same lift on your shots.
That was the case in Game 4 of the Thunder-Grizzlies series when Durant missed all five of his shots in overtime, including a layup in the final seconds. He went 2 of 13 in the fourth quarter and overtime and had only five points after scoring 22 points through three quarters.
Durant played 48 minutes and looked like his legs were gone by the end of the third quarter. In Game 3, Durant was limited to two points and 1-for-4 shooting in the fourth quarter so that’s a combined 3-for-17 in the last two fourth quarters for the NBA’s three-time scoring champion. It also doesn’t help that first-team defender Tony Allen (he finished 25 first-place votes on the 2013 All-NBA defensive team) is draped on KD like a steel curtain late in the game, covering him bump-and-run style like an NFL corner.
Durant has been getting good looks at the basket, but the shots just haven’t been falling. To his credit, he’s not making any excuses.
“It’s midnight and I usually sleep around 12 o’clock, so it’s way past my bedtime,” Durant said. “I’m a little sleepy, but other than that I’m good.
“I’m giving everything I’ve got for my team, no matter how many minutes I play. That’s what I’ve been doing since the playoffs started. No matter how the game goes I’m gonna fight.”
Unlike Game 3, Durant actually got help from his teammates in Game 4. Kevin Martin scored 18 points, Serge Ibaka had his best game of the series with 17 points and 14 rebounds, and Reggie Jackson had 15. Nick Collison even added 10.
The Thunder was in great position to steal a game in Memphis, but Durant simply had little left in the gas tank to finish the job.
“Kevin has to do so much for them already, but we’ve thrown different guys … Tony Allen, Tayshaun [Prince], Quincy [Pondexter], and even Jerryd Bayless at times. They’ve all have had to guard him, pick him up fullcourt, and wear him down because we know he has to play a lot of minutes and do a lot for them,” said Memphis guard Mike Conley, who finished with 24 points and had four steals.
“We know we can’t stop him, but we know we have to contain him and wear him down as best we can.”
Oklahoma City had a few opportunities to seize control of the game, but it seems like each time the Thunder called Durant’s number he uncharacteristically came up empty. He slipped on a pull-up jumper on the right wing and his shot bounced off the back of the rim, and then when he freed himself from Allen on the left wing the Memphis big guys got in his face and turned him away.
In fairness to Durant, he’s had to work extra hard in this series because he doesn’t have his All-Star sidekick Russell Westbrook. Without Westbrook, Durant not only has to score but he’s also asked to create shots for his teammates. As good as KD is at this stage of his career, he’s not LeBron James.