SALT LAKE CITY — Kevin Durant clearly thought he was fouled on a 3-point attempt just before the buzzer sounded in overtime Tuesday night at EnergySolutions Arena.
Had the whistle blown and a foul had been called on Utah's C.J. Miles, Durant, an 89.5 percent free-throw shooter who had been perfect from the line all game, would have likely given the Oklahoma City Thunder a hard-fought win over the Utah Jazz.
Instead, Utah escaped with a 140-139 victory.
Durant, who protested the non-call before leaving the court, held his tongue when asked about the play in the Thunder locker room 20 minutes after the game — perhaps to avoid a league-induced fine for criticizing the officials.
"It's not a foul if they didn't call it," was all Durant would say.
The young Oklahoma City star may have been coached on what to tell to the media about the controversial no-call — because the Thunder coach said nearly the same thing.
"The referee didn't call the foul," said Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks. "You've got to go with him. He had a better look at it than I did. That's part of it. Sometimes you get (the calls), and sometimes you don't."
It was amazing that the Thunder even had the opportunity to get the game into overtime and win, considering they were down by 11 points with under three minutes to play in regulation.
But, led by Durant, Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City rallied to nearly steal a road victory and complete a four-game sweep of the season series with the Jazz.
"It was a great game, and both teams played extremely hard," said Brooks. "The star players were making every shot. Deron Williams is a handful. He's one of the best point guards in basketball, and it was a great game. Unfortunately, we lost. … There is nothing to be ashamed of. I'm proud of all of our guys' effort."
Durant, who finished with 45 points, agreed.
"It was a fun game to be a part of," said Durant. "You've got to give them credit. They came out from the beginning and played hard. But you've got to give us credit, too, because we came back after being down 11 in the fourth quarter. So it was a great game."
At 6-9, the 21-year-old, skinny superstar-in-the-making has a potent inside/outside game. But against the Jazz, Durant was particularly effective with the long ball. He made seven 3-pointers on the game — several of which were well beyond the line.
"They were packing the paint," said Durant of the Jazz's defense. "I couldn't drive. I couldn't post up, so I had to take what they were giving me. They were giving me the deep three, and I was fortunate enough to make some."10 comments on this story
Utah, now 51-27 on the season, and Oklahoma City, at 48-29, could meet up in the first round of the playoffs. If that's the case, it could be a memorable best-of-7 series.
"Both teams are very talented," said Brooks. "(The Jazz) have some experience. They've got shooters. They've got a great point guard and a banger off the bench. And we feel like we have a good team, too. We want to be an elite team someday. We are just going to keep working hard, and we just need to keep building on it."