"You look at Kobe, they could go on a five-game losing streak and he… (Sue Ogrocki / Associated…)
OKLAHOMA CITY — Kobe Bryant isn’t being a vain superstar when he takes credit for instilling a fight-through-it mentality in Kevin Durant.
He’s telling the truth, Durant said.
“I watch guys and I just look at their facial expressions and their body language and I observe them,” Durant, the star Oklahoma City forward, said after the Thunder’s shoot-around Friday. “You look at Kobe, they could go on a five-game losing streak and he could shoot 30% and he has a poker face. He doesn’t let it affect him. You can tell he’s going to come out that next game and play his hardest and go out and produce.
"I’ve been watching him since I was 8 years old. To see that year in and year out and see the success he’s had, you just try to emulate him a little bit. He has that attitude like he doesn’t care, just go out there and play his game, and that’s what I try to do."
It’s worked well for Durant, who at 24 is already one of the game’s top talents. He’s also gotten the better of recent head-to-head meetings with Bryant and the Lakers, who play the Thunder on Friday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Oklahoma City eliminated the Lakers last season in the Western Conference semifinals and is already six games ahead of the Lakers in the conference standings by early December.
Bryant might be partially to blame. He suggested Wednesday that Durant and Russell Westbrook derived their toughness from him.
"They watched me growing up," Bryant said. "They saw how I dealt with criticism and all this other stuff and just put my head down and kept playing. ... They're cut from the same cloth."
The Thunder's cloth is currently like silk to the Lakers' polyester. Is Durant surprised the Lakers (9-10) are in such disarray?
“People underestimate chemistry in this league,” Durant said. “They’ve had three coaches in this short season already and a lot of new guys, so it’s going to take them some time. Everybody knows that. People expect quick results, especially in this league with Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol. But chemistry is a big factor in this league.”
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