OKLAHOMA CITY — Coach Steve Clifford saw their was a problem early on. Before his Charlotte Bobcats even took the floor against the Oklahoma City Thunder, he knew something wasn't right.
Clifford intuition turned out to be true as the Bobcats fell to the Thunder 116-99 Sunday at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
"We didn’t have the right mindset today," Clifford said. "Starting this morning at shootaround. We didn't have the mentality our team needed to play an elite team like this. I thought our energy level was low. We had poor energy to start the game."
For 3 1/2 quarters, they did as they kept the game close. But the Thunder used a three minute scoring outburst to put the contest away.
"The team kind of turned it from there," Thunder guard Reggie Jackson said. "We just got stops, tried to get out and run and use our athleticism to our advantage."
The Thunder (45-15) led by eight when Durant hit a turnaround jumper at the 5:43 mark in the fourth quarter. Oklahoma City's defense forced Charlotte into a shot clock violation. It led to back to back layups by Durant and forward Serga Ibaka to push the advantage to 12 points.
Charlotte (27-32) was forced to call its second time out in less than two minutes. That didn't prevent Ibaka from blocking a shot, assisting on point guard Russell Westbrook 3-pointer and then hitting his own from the top of the key.
After Jackson stole the ball from Charlotte guard Kemba Walker and went in for the easy layup, Oklahoma City's lead had ballooned from six to 20 in less than three minutes. Both teams then began to clear their bench.
Durant finished the night with 28 points, shooting 8-for-24 from the field to go along with five assists and six rebounds. As bad as his shooting numbers were, they were far from the worst shooting nights of his career, which was a 2-for-17 clip his rookie season.