I’m choosing to believe Kevin Durant went glass on purpose. Not just because that means he made the shot he intended to, but because he did it as a little nod to his old buddy Jeff Green.
It was on the opposite elbow, but much like Uncle Jeff’s game-winner against in Oracle Arena three years ago, KD iced the Warriors by banking home a jumper in the closing seconds. Said Durant after the game, “It looked terrible leaving my hands but I’m glad it hit the backboard and went in.” Even when KD misses, he makes it. He’s THAT good.
But if you thought last night’s game was cray, this one took it up another level. Monta Ellis scored 30 points in the first half and finished with 48. The two teams traded like 15 3-pointers in the third quarter. Oklahoma City trailed by 12, and then seven late in the fourth but clawed back to somehow pull out a win. About 10 different times, this looked like a loss. I don’t know what it is about the Thunder, but if they’re within striking distance after that final TV timeout, they’ve got a real good shot at winning.
The Thunder got massive contributions from Durant (33 points), Westbrook (31 points), James Harden (19 points) and Daequan Cook (17 points), who was 5-6 from 3. Each time the Thunder were put in a position of needing a do-or-die bucket, they got it. They got stops, did well on the glass and just found a way.
It appeared that the Thunder would spoil all their hard work with two ugly possessions in the final minute though. OKC led by two, 115-113, and has the ball. Westbrook had Dominic McGuire on him for some reason (he played three really random minutes), and tried to take him off the dribble. Westbrook lost it and the Warriors took possession with 55 seconds left. But OKC got a stop and made sure the ball went to The Closer. KD isolated with Dorell Wright on him but instead of attacking, Durant settled for a contested 3. Two empty possessions and it opened up the opportunity for OKC to blow it. Ellis made them pay on the other end with an and-1 to give GSW a one-point lead, but that’s when KD said, “I got this.”
“Clutch” is a weird thing, and something I’m not entirely sure I believe in. But you can’t ignore that Durant seems to have developed that knack for dropping big shots in big moments. Some guys have it. They want the ball, the want the weight of missing on their back. They want the opportunity to win it, and the responsibility if they don’t. The Thunder are fortunate to have two guys with the stones to want to take those shots, but as it tends to do, the ball finds No. 35′s hands and as he tends to do, he finishes the deed.
Just another night, another banana sandwich win for the Thunder. There’s something about this team’s backbone that gives you a quiet confidence in those big moments. Whether it’s a tough, physical game like in Portland on Monday or a fast break shooting contest like Tuesday’s game against the Warriors, the Thunder are finishing games.
- KD’s line: 33 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, only two turnovers, two blocks. Including the final one on Brandon Rush to seal the win. Durant is next level right now. Next level for himself even. I wouldn’t want any other guy on my team. I’m serious.
- Westbrook nearly got himself a double-double: 31 points and nine turnovers. Whoa. He had seven assists to go with it but he was giving the ball away with great regularity in this one.
- Only three players turned the ball over for the Thunder tonight, but those piled up to 15 total. Westbrook had nine, Perk four and Durant two. Don’t see that every day.
- Westbrook was WIDE open under the basket on KD’s jumper, but Harden either saw him too late or decided it was too risky of a pass. Obviously it worked out well, but had KD missed, I think we’d all be wondering why Russ didn’t get the ball there.
- Monta Ellis had a terrific look to win it with 15 seconds left but missed. I thought he had it all the way.
- Gotta think Thabo would’ve helped a bit covering Ellis out there in this one. Westbrook tried his darndest but Ellis kept making wild layups and hitting that leaning jumper. Some nights Ellis can just be better than even great defense. Not saying the Thunder were playing any, but Ellis has an incredible ability to score the ball.
- OKC shot 52.4 percent, went 11-26 from 3 and 20-21 from the free throw line. That’s some good true shootin’.
- KD has played 89 minutes the last two nights and Westbrook 85. Get some rest, you guys.
- Daequan Cook was simply sensational. Hitting 5-6 was great, but he took smart shots and hit a couple of really timely jumpers.
- I’ve never seen Nick Collison so helpless defensively. David Lee just completely worked him late in the third quarter on four straight possession.
- Brian Davis called labeled James Harden “Never Hurry Harden” which I think is the best/worst nickname for him I’ve heard.
- Serge Ibaka really is pretty terrific at going straight up. Players attack the rim but Ibaka jumps straight up with his arms stretched high and doesn’t foul. If they score, so be it, but he’s not getting baited into a foul.
- We’re real close to putting to bed this Harden on the road stuff.
- If you think Perk is bad, it could be worse. OKC could have Andris Biedrins.
- Nazr Mohammed did some work. He was great in nine first half minutes scoring eight points on 4-5 shooting and grabbing three rebounds. He didn’t play any in the second half, but that was largely because Scott Brooks chose to go small pretty much the whole way.
- Not a good matchup for Perk and luckily Brooks recognized it as Perk only got 19 minutes. With the way the Warriors were working the pick-and-roll and moving the ball, Perk was mostly a complete non-factor.
- The plus/minus numbers are a bit wonky. Only one starter was a plus (Cook, +2), with Ibaka and Perk being -14 each. Durant and Westbrook were both -8. The bench was all pluses, with Jackson and Collison a +14, Mohammed a +13 and Harden a +9.
- KD started the game 1-7, Westbrook 6-7. Westbrook finished 12-21, KD 13-27.
- Reggie Jackson’s failure to execute a 3-on-2 fast break says a lot about his confidence. He decided to take it on his own, but the whole way he didn’t look sure of what he wanted to do.
- Brian Davis Line of the Night: “Threes will put points on the board and hair on your chest!” Though the popular submission was, “KD uncoiling like a rattlesnake in the Oklahoma panhandle!”
Next up: At the Kings Thursday.