Kevin Durant. Is good.
Recap over. Thank you and goodnight.
I mean, yo ho ho ho. A season-high 41 for KD, 28 coming in the second half. Endless daggers, dunks, defense, crossovers — goodness. I want this game burned to DVD and wrapped for a Christmas gift right now.
Durant’s filthy public humiliation of Kyle Korver was the perfect bow on a ridiculous performance, but his most important play was the stand up defense on Josh Smith in the post that quickly turned into an and-1 on the other end. The Hawks were still hanging tough, down seven with six minutes to go. But in an instant, they were down 10 and had awoken the Durantula. After KD finished it, you could read his lips pretty clearly — “This is my motherf—king house!” And on Wednesday, it most certainly was.
I just love these “I got this” games from Durant. The shot over Korver was as much about a message to the Hawks that they were done than it was about the three points. It was basically saying, “You see this? I can do this. How are you going to beat us when I can do this any time I want?”
For a good portion though, it didn’t appear any of that would be necessary. The Thunder came out with excellent energy and appeared to be well on their way to rolling to their 12th win. They were building a steady third quarter lead, pushing it up to 17. But everything stalled out and the last six minutes of the third, as the Thunder missed a clear opportunity to slam the door shut on the Hawks. Atlanta closed the third on a 12-2 run, then opened the fourth with four more consecutive points, cutting OKC’s lead to four with 10 minutes to go. Scott Brooks had enough of that and sent Russell Westbrook and Durant back to the scorers table.
The duo then combined to score 24 of the Thunder’s 27 fourth quarter points, with Durant doing most of the heavy lifting, and doing it in style. Later, Hawks.
The offensive explosion obviously was most eye-catching, but KD’s defense in OKC’s small lineup was nothing short of terrific. He completely locked Josh Smith down in the post and the Hawks were left with a terrible mismatch and no answer on the offensive end. Brooks deployed his small group beautifully tonight, dictating the matchups in OKC’s favor. The Hawks were visibly frustrated in the fourth, knowing that they didn’t really have answers on either end.
Atlanta shot just 38.3 percent, couldn’t get to the free throw line and didn’t convert a lot of their second chance opportunities. The Thunder dug in all over and when things got tight in the fourth, looked to Durant and Westbrook to carry them home.
The Thunder haven’t really been pushed too awful much late in games during this win streak, but this was a situation where OKC had to execute in the fourth. They had to get good possessions, take good shots and make sure they ran crisp, timely sets.
Even with OKC’s impressive record and streak, they haven’t really answered a bunch of crunchtime questions, simply because they haven’t had to. The Thunder got a little test tonight, and passed easily. Largely because No. 35 is so stupidly ridiculous at basketball.
Don’t underestimate the goodness (goodness?) of this win. The Hawks are pretty solid. And Durant and the Thunder went into their house and took the keys. The knock on OKC’s streak has been the quality of opponents, but with back-to-back wins over the Spurs and Hawks, that qualifier is running out.
- Nick Collison deserves some serious dap for his work in the fourth. With the Thunder really bogged down early, he created four points entirely on his own. Once on an offensive rebound and dish to Westbrook for a dunk, another on tapping an offensive rebound to Durant for a putback. Those are the type of little plays Collison makes that just help you win.
- If you missed it, here’s KD working Korver over.
- Don’t forget: With KD’s 41, he also added 13 rebounds and three assists.
- Westbrook was stellar, but obviously overshadowed. He finished with 27 and 11 assists.
- Two stats via @ThunderStats: KD now how 10 40-point, 10-rebound games. Since 2010, nobody has more. Westbrook now has 21 career 25-point, 10-assist games. Since 2010, no other player in the league has more.
- After going 10 straight games not turning it over more than four times, KD has turned it over a total of 14 the last three games.
- Westbrook just can’t seem to sustain good shooting nights. He started tonight 6-of-9 and looked to be headed for a special game, percentage wise. But he cooled off big time, hitting just three of his last 12 shots to finish 9-21.
- Kevin Martin finished with only six points tonight, all coming in the first half. But it’s not like he played poorly. He just wasn’t needed.
- Brian Davis said he’d like to “see these two teams in a playoff series.” I don’t think he thought that one through. Unless he wants a Hawks-Thunder Finals.
- How about Jeff Teague talking smack to Perk?
- Hasheem Thabeet hit a contested baseline jumper. I mean, HASHEEM THABEET HIT A CONTESTED BASELINE JUMPER.
- Westbrook busted out a little one-legged Dirk/KD fadeaway in the first half. And swished it.
- Serge Ibaka didn’t have near the same offensive impact tonight, but he contributed 14 rebounds and three blocks.
- Eric Maynor? Stunk it up.
- Teague is a darn good player. That floater is money.
- Jeremy Lamb sighting! Scott Brooks busted out Lamb for five minutes in the second quarter, his first real rotation burn since the Detroit game where he was completely lost. And Lamb looked considerably more comfortable and confident in himself. He drilled his first shot, hit a 3 and grabbed a rebound. It was just a taste, but Lamb definitely has a look about him. His time in Tulsa is serving him well.
- A bunch of people asked me if the Thunder were showcasing Lamb for a trade. Teams don’t do that near as much as you might think. It was more about giving Lamb some time because he’s earned it with his strong play in Tulsa.
- Westbrook’s dunk in the first quarter. Bangarang.
- Is there anything worse in basketball when two guys on the same team go up for an uncontested rebound and end up knocking it out of bounds? That needs to start counting as a turnover.
- Brian Davis Line of the Night: “Sefolosha could have a sandwich out there and he pays it off.”
Next up: At Minnesota on Thursday.