'We're fooling ourselves': Durant troubled by string of blown leads

by
Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Durant was blunt in his assessment of where the Oklahoma City Thunder sit in the Western Conference pecking order after the team blew a second-half lead for the third time in four games.

The Thunder (42-19) coughed up a 22-point lead against the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday, marking the ninth time this season OKC has lost after entering the fourth quarter with the upper hand. Only the lowly Philadelphia 76ers have more losses in that scenario.

"We want to be a great team," Durant told reporters, according to ESPN's Royce Young. "We're fooling ourselves. If we just want to be a great team, the way we're playing, we're fooling ourselves. We want to win a bunch of games in the regular season, that's cool, but we're fooling ourselves with the way we're playing."

Despite their overall success, the Thunder's late-game execution has been laughable in several instances this season. Defensive lapses have become commonplace, and on Wednesday they turned the ball over six times in the fourth quarter, when they shot just 25 percent.

"We lost a few games, lost some tough ones," Durant said. "But at the end of the day, we're playing basketball, something we love to do every single day. When you look at it like that, it's not as tough as you think. But losing does suck. And we hate losing. But at the end of the day, we're still in a good spot. We've just got to climb out of where we're at right now."

The Thunder's lack of wing depth behind superstars Durant and Russell Westbrook continues to hurt them. On Wednesday, Kyle Singler and Dion Waiters combined for nine points on 3-of-11 shooting off the bench.

Conversely, in the losses to the Clippers and last Saturday against the Golden State Warriors, the Thunder outrebounded their opponents 63-45 and 62-32 respectively.

What's more, some have accused Durant and Westbrook of stat-chasing.

Coach Billy Donovan, for his part, believes the team's relative success has papered over a few troubling flaws.

"You get intoxicated by winning, and you fail to realize the slippage in things that's going on," Donovan said after the Clippers loss. "But right now for us, I think the biggest thing is getting exposed and shining a light like there is tonight, so to a point we have to make a decision of what we want to do."

The Warriors await the Thunder on Thursday night.