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Oklahoma City knows what's missing against the Lakers

Russell Westbrook makes only three of 22 shots from the field and Kevin Durant goes 11 for 34 as Thunder falls short. Loss of James Harden after Metta World Peace's flagrant foul also hurts.

April 22, 2012|By Ben Bolch

The numbers were painfully percolating in the Oklahoma City locker room late Sunday afternoon.

Russell Westbrook sat in a chair, shoulders slumped, repeatedly shaking his head.

"Unbelievable," the Thunder guard said to himself.

A few feet away, Kevin Durant asked a team official for a stat sheet.

"I can count at least eight or nine shots I had wide open," Durant told Westbrook.

About the only thing that fell for the Thunder stars at Staples Center was their team, the Lakers rallying for an improbable 114-106 victory in double overtime largely thanks to the staggering inaccuracy of Westbrook and Durant.

Westbrook had 14 points and 10 assists but made only three of 22 shots, his worst shooting performance since an 0-for-13 clunker against Memphis on Dec. 28.

Durant scored 35 points but missed 23 of 34 shots, including a potential game-winning jumper at the end of regulation. Westbrook then misfired on a jumper at the end of the first overtime that would have won the game for the Thunder.

"It was a tough night for me all night long," Westbrook said.

Not as tough as it was for James Harden.

The Oklahoma City guard took an elbow to the head from Lakers forward Metta World Peace late in the second quarter, immediately crumpling to the floor. World Peace was assessed a Type 2 flagrant foul and ejected, though he later claimed the blow was unintentional.

Harden sustained a concussion and did not return, depriving the Thunder of a player who had made five of seven shots and scored 14 points in only 13 minutes. He left the locker room before reporters were allowed inside.

"I'm just happy that he's all right," Durant said of Harden. "It's a bad play and hopefully [World Peace] didn't do it intentionally or have any malicious intentions on that."

The loss of Harden briefly galvanized Oklahoma City, which went on a 24-8 run and led by as many as 18 points late in the third quarter.

Then the Thunder started taking mostly jump shots, few of them going in.

Oklahoma City made only four of 19 shots in the fourth quarter, with Westbrook and Durant combining to make only two of 13. The Lakers outscored the Thunder, 30-14, in the final quarter, in part because of a 15-4 edge in free throws attempted.

"You're not going to get an opportunity to get to the line when you take jump shots, but I will take those shots," Oklahoma City Coach Scott Brooks said. "We had good looks. Normally, we make those shots."

The Thunder's cold play continued into the overtimes. Westbrook and Durant combined to make only one of six shots in the first extra period and three of nine shots in the second one.

"We got great looks," Durant said. "We just couldn't finish them."

Oklahoma City guard Thabo Sefolosha suggested his team needed to diversify its offensive attack after falling one game behind San Antonio for the top seeding in the Western Conference. No one attempted more than seven shots besides Westbrook, Durant and Serge Ibaka, who had 18 points on nine-for-16 shooting.

"We just have to keep sharing the ball," Sefolosha said. "We can't just rely on two or three guys to provide all the offense for us."

Especially when they're shooting as they did Sunday.

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