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‘The Oklahoman’ harshly dubs Kevin Durant as ‘Mr. Unreliable’ (photo)

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It’s rare to see a hometown newspaper treat a hometown player with such derision, but The Oklahoman went there, callously referring to as “Mr. Unreliable,” arguing that the Oklahoma City Thunder superstar and presumed NBA MVP hasn’t been stepping up as much as he should, coming up short when the team needs him most.

Berry Tramel lays out the argument that arguably the best player in the league cannot be counted on as follows:

Durant has made just 40 percent of his shots against the Grizzlies. [Memphis swingman] Allen’s been in Durant’s sneakers. Meets him at the bus and tucks him in at night. Then haunts Durant’s dreams.

Don’t believe it? Durant is so out of sorts, he’s not making hay even when Allen is on the bench charming teammates with his mercurial ways. The last two games, Durant has made just eight of 20 shots with Allen not in the game. Durant is so out of sorts, his foul shooting is mediocre — 28 of 39, a .718 percentage that is below NBA journeyman standards, much less Durant’s own .882 career percentage.

Durant went to the foul line three times – and made just one of two on all three trips, including a miss after Crawford’s interruption, when the Thunder trailed 100-99 with 27.5 seconds left in overtime, a score that held up at the end. For six years, Durant has shot foul shots on a string. Mister Automatic. Now he’s unreliable.

Yikes, man. Talk about harsh.

The statistics laid out by Tramel are in fact accurate, but isn’t it a bit of a stretch to refer to Durant as unreliable.

Granted, Durant himself admitted Allen has gotten into his head, saying the swingman’s defense has been giving him fits.

“I’m worrying about a guy coming from behind trying to block the shot,” Durant said, via ESPN.com. “I’ve just got to focus in on the rim and my shot. I can’t go out there and think too much, I have to let my instincts take over….

“I’m not being disciplined enough in my shot,” Durant said. “I’m either pulling it back too quick or shooting too quick.”

The Thunder find themselves in a 3-2 hole heading into a do-or-die Game 6 Thursday night at FedEx Forum in Memphis. Will this critical but fair column somehow reach Durant and motivate him? Perhaps that was the intent, but come on, detachment in journalism is an important component, but let’s not go crazy here with the hypercritical and damning condemnation of the player that just might be the only man who can pull the Thunder off the precipice of elimination.

Perhaps the critique will rouse Durant, stir the echoes and somehow awaken the Slim Reaper, Durant’s arguably preferred, not to mention superior, moniker.

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