Durant's 26 misses are the most he has ever had in a game in his career, playoffs or regular season.
"Just missed 'em. Just missed 'em," Durant said. "Everything looked good for me. Coach drew up some good plays. Teammates set great screens. Russell [Westbrook] delivered the ball perfect. It's on me after that. I've just got to make 'em next game."
Durant's final missed shot came with three seconds left. It was a potentially game-winning layup attempt that was blocked by rookie Justin Anderson. Steven Adams recovered the miss and put it back, but it came after the buzzer.
"Bad shooting night for me," Durant said. "It's a part of it. I wish it didn't happen tonight, but it's a part of it. Got some great looks all night and just didn't knock 'em down. Just stick with my routine, don't do too much extra, and go out there tomorrow and get ready for practice."
Durant said he was "surprised" that he couldn't get shots to drop, but he remained optimistic throughout the game, encouraging his teammates as his teammates encouraged him.
"You constantly keep feeding him," Westbrook said. "He's the best player in the world. You have nights like that. My job is to find him and find a way to get him an easy basket. He missed easy ones tonight, but I know Kevin. I've been with him for too long, and that won't happen again."
Durant went 4-for-14 in the first half and 3-for-19 in the second. His seventh make was a big one that cut the Mavericks' lead to one point with 9.5 seconds left. After Raymond Felton missed two free throws, Durant had a chance to win the game, but Anderson got a piece of his layup.
"I thought it was a really, really physical game for both teams," Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. "Everybody on the bench was trying to encourage Kevin. The guy works so hard every day. When you see him, the time he puts in, I think he has great expectations for himself."
According to ESPN Stats & Information, 22 of Durant's shots were contested, 18 came outside the paint and eight were in the fourth quarter, including three in the final 24 seconds. Durant shot only five free throws (and made all five), which was a source of frustration for the team.
"Just one of those nights for him," Donovan said. "Probably throughout his career, he hasn't had very many of them. I thought he worked to get open. I thought he worked to get shots. I think everybody is used to him making them, but it was one of those nights. ... For a guy that's been as great a scorer as he has his entire career, for him to shoot the ball the way he did was really uncharacteristic."
Mavs guard Wesley Matthews, who was Durant's primary defender, said he "was just trying to expend all my energy on the defensive end."
"Not one individual can slow somebody like that down," Matthews said. "He's arguably the best scorer in the league. My team was great behind me, and he was probably missing some shots, some good looks. My offense wasn't there, but I was going to be damned if I was going to let that lead to an L for us."
The series is tied 1-1 with Game 3 on Thursday in Dallas.
Despite Durant's shooting struggles, the Thunder kept feeding him in the fourth quarter, and Donovan said the team never considered changing that strategy and looking to someone else to score.
"I have all the confidence in the world in Kevin shooting the basketball, and even though he was struggling -- I think at one point I saw in the stat sheet he was 5-for-23 -- I was never going to tell him not to shoot," Donovan said. "He's a guy that can turn it on pretty quickly and get on a roll."
Jordan went 9-35 in a 1997 NBA Eastern Conference Finals game against Miami. He scored 29 points in an 87-80 loss. Two days later, the Bulls closed out the Heat, with Jordan scoring 28 points, but missing 20 more shots (he was 11-31).
Information from ESPN's Tim MacMahon was used in this report.