The Baltimore Sun’s recap of last night’s game: “The two superstars did not go out of their way to acknowledge each other, but when it was time to play ball, the two best players on the planet made it perfectly clear they would be guarding one another. It might not have been personal, but it certainly felt serious. Over the next 40 minutes, the pair exchanged a series of backboard-ratting dunks, 3-pointers and even the occasional glare. It wasn’t always great basketball, but it was often great theater. Durant scored 59 points to James’ 38, but James team, the Melo League All-Stars, held on for a 149-141 victory over Durant’s Goodman League All-Stars.”
KD after the game: “I have so much respect for LeBron .. He’ll go down as one of the greatest players to ever play the game. To have this opportunity against him, I’m just working on what I’ve been working on all summer. I had to take advantage of that. It was fun. He’s a great defender and a great scorer. I try to play my hardest on defense against him. I try to be as aggressive as I can offensively.”
Then KD on Facebook: “Everyone is talking about how many points I scored tonight, but basketball is about winning and my team came up short…still had fun though!”
Ian Begley of ESPN New York: “Durant and James went at each other for most of the game, with Durant getting past James for a baseline dunk in the first half. But James scored 12 in the fourth quarter, including six straight at one point, to help the Melo League team take control in front of roughly 4,000 fans at the near-capacity Hill Field House.”
Dan Feldman for ESPN.com: “Durant saved the game when he showed up wearing his trademark backpack moments before the national anthem. “Oh, man. There was a lot of traffic coming from my side of town,” he said. Without him, the star-studded Melo League would’ve rolled over the Goodman League. Instead, Durant and LeBron treated fans to a one-on-one battle that had had everyone on the edge of their seats from the first moment Durant began dribbling with LeBron guarding him. Durant missed that first jumper, but the rest of their nights didn’t disappoint.”
Beckley Mason for TrueHoop: “Durant’s handle has improved dramatically this summer. He seems much more confident dribbling through traffic in the open court and using his crossover and hesitation moves, often one after the other, to reach the rim. Durant’s long arms make for a crossover that covers about eight feet side to side and he seems more comfortable using the move to both step back and explode towards the basket. His rhythmic crossover routine repeatedly befuddled his defender for the night, LeBron, and with his step-back as an ever present counter threat, Durant was able to get to the rim with surprising ease.”
Andrew Sharp of SBN with a great recap: “A lot of people who don’t weren’t there on Tuesday night will see the final score (149-141) and see that Kevin Durant scored 59 points while LeBron added 38, and they’ll sneer. Something like, “Ha! That’s what happens when nobody plays defense.” But that’s not how it went down. There was no team defense, which meant that once a player beat his man, he was all but guaranteed an open look. But that’s a whole lot different from “nobody played defense.” There was tough one-on-one defense all night long, and every possession was a new battle. For the fans, the intensity was as unexpected as it was exhilarating. The Goodman League may not have considered Tuesday night a definitive showdown between D.C. and Baltimore, but they weren’t conceding a thing. Nobody embodied this dynamic better than Durant and LeBron. The game may not have been a fair matchup between Baltimore and D.C., but Durant vs. LeBron would have no asterisk, and they played like it.”
Michael Lee of the Washington Post: “Durant’s summer-league tour hasn’t just been the equivalent of a grassroots marketing tool, it has been a way for him to get better. His improved ball-handling was evident throughout Tuesday’s game. He consistently used his crossover to get by defenders, or to create separation for him to drop his jumper. He might have to wait for Russell Westbrook to find him in his comfortable spots, or settle for long-range shots, as he often did in the Western Conference Finals against Dallas.”
Skip Bayless, yesterday talking about KD at the Melo: “I love Kevin Durant in any summer league game where he doesn’t have that anvil around his neck named Russell West-brick who’s going to shoot 40 shots alongside KD. Now Kevin Durant’s going to get to shot it when he wants, as many times as he wants.” Oh, Skip Bayless.
Nice piece on Elizabeth Cambage of the Tulsa Shock. Pretty easy to draw parallels between her rookie year and KD’s first in OKC.