First, the important thing: Oklahoma City beat Golden State 112-104, improved to 26-21 and is back tied for eighth in the Western Conference playoff race. That’s the important thing. But the awesome thing from this game?
Kevin Durant. Holy crap in a basket, Kevin Durant.
Often times, when KD is playing well, I try and remind myself about how he’s just 21 years old. I try and remind myself that he’s in his third year. I try and remind myself that we ain’t really seen nothing yet. But nights like this, Durant just punches you in the eye with his awesomeness and says forget about the future. IT IS NOW KIDS. How’s this taste: 45 points on 16-21 shooting, 11-11 from the free throw line, 2-3 from deep and oh yeah, here’s 11 boards, two assists and two steals. No words to quantify this. None.
Obviously, there is a disclaimer on this performance because it was against the ole defense of the Warriors. But to miss only five shots in a basketball game and score 45 points? As Simmons put it, “List of current/retired players who coulda pulled that off = short.” That’s high praise, but it’s truth. And again, the best part? He’s only 21 years old and he’s not close to a finished product yet. Who’s excited for the next 10 years?
I really think I could take the next 1,000 words and just detail scoring play after scoring play from Durant, but hopefully you watched the game, and if you didn’t, set your DVR for the replay tonight at midnight central time. I may even give it “Don’t erase until I say so” status. Yeah, it was that good.
But Durant’s spectacular performance would have been for not had Russell Westbrook not stepped up and filled in with 28 points (14-17 free throw shooting) and eight assists. Westbrook was big in late moments, hitting a couple clutch free throws and also knocking down a fading 13-foot jumper. And he also created a couple key scoring opportunities late, including a beautiful drive and dish to Serge Ibaka for a flush. At times, Westbrook goes from a dynamic creator in the first three quarters to disappearing and forcing things in the last eight minutes. But he was very good throughout this one.
OKC took control of this game in the third, outscoring Golden State 33-20 in the quarter and you could be a little upset the Thunder didn’t put a foot on the Warriors throat and lock this one away, but the thing about GSW is that they can always score. Monta Ellis hit two impossible 3s with Thabo is his face that were just great shots. The Warriors can score points in a hustle, so an 11-point lead really isn’t much. There were some defensive breakdowns in the fourth that led to an 8-0 Warrior run, but Serge Ibaka came up with a big play at the rim when GSW cut it to three. OKC made plays when it had to, and what matters is that the Thunder came out with eight more points than the other guy.
- Kevin Durant after the game: “Good win for us…back to work tomorrow.”
- Jeff Green hits another big shot after the Warriors had closed in on the Thunder lead. Green had 14 points and seven rebounds. If he stays consistent in that type of stat line territory, I think OKC could be alright the rest of the way.
- OKC took 41 free throws tonight. Forty-one! The Thunder hit 30 of them. Golden State took *just* 29.
- The Thunder dominated the glass, outrebounding GSW 45-31. The Warriors had just 22 defensive rebounds. A lot of that is because OKC shot almost 52 percent from the floor.
- Eleven steals for the Thunder. Thabo had four of them.
- And Thabo had a big offensive game for his standards, scoring 14 points on 6-13 shooting. That’s the second highest shot attempt total for Thabo this year.
- Like I mentioned in the pregame, Monta Ellis had 25 points. But it took him 24 shots to get it.
- Again, the 45 points from Durant were completely awesome. But dang, I was really hoping for 50 and a new career high.
- How about the up-and-under finger roll KD pulled off with no glass? That was just nasty, dirty, filthy sick. He’s offensively illegal.
- This was KD’s 11th 30 point 10 rebound game, which leads the league. Chris Bosh is second with nine.
- Slightly crazy stat of the night: C.J. Watson was a plus-20 for the Warriors off the bench in 24 minutes. Ellis was a minus-20 and Stephen Curry minus-18. Weird.
- Durant’s shot chart: 7-7 at the rim, 1-1 from inside 10 feet, 3-5 from 10 to 15 feet, 3-5 from 16 to 23 feet and 2-3 from 3. That’s good shootin’, Tex.
- KD looked a little embarrassed by the MVP chants in the fourth. Get used to ‘em. They’re just going to get louder. Especially with more nights like this.
- Eric Maynor got just 11 minutes, as Westbrook played 45. This was one of those games where Russ had the jumper working and was excellent in transition. I’m beginning to absolutely LOVE Russ in the open floor. He makes really good decisions most times there.
We’ll remember this one for KD’s awesome offensive performance, but this was a good taking care of business win. The Thunder have responded well to a three-game losing streak by winning two good ones, with a big one Tuesday at home against Atlanta. I thought we could be satisfied with a 2-2 homestand here. Well, that’s locked away. But I’d be OK with getting to six games over again. Yeah, that would be cool.
Next up: Atlanta at home Tuesday night.