Forget Kevin Durant not being nice. I’m not so sure he’s actually part of our species anymore.
A night after carrying the Thunder to a gritty win in Portland, KD played 43 minutes tonight in Phoenix, scored 41 points, had five rebounds, two assists, two blocks, no turnovers and one murder. Because he murdered Marcin Gortat. I think we can all agree: Kevin Durant appears to be unfriendly while basketballing on the basketball court.
The Thunder beat the Suns 102-90 tonight completing a really nice back-to-back sweep, which was impressive. Also impressive: To go with Durant’s 41, Russell Westbrook added 36, meaning OKC’s superduo combined for 77 of the Thunder’s 102. Oh, let me top that: The Thunder scored 51 points in the second half. Westbrook and Durant combined for 47 of those points.
Westbrook and Durant overall, combined: 77 points on 29-54 shooting, 13 rebounds, seven assists and one turnover.
KD and Russ postered the box score tonight.
I feel like we all need to reflect a little more on the 47 of 51 Westbrook and Durant combined for. Where’d the other four come from, you ask? Nick Collison made a jumper in the third and Hasheem Thabeet finished a layup late in the fourth. Other than that, it was all Russ and KD, all the time.
Durant has been on some kind of tear the last three games (42, 33, 41) but remember, Westbrook was coming off a game last night where he went just 5-21 from the floor. As he tends to do, he stuffed the box score in other areas, but he had major issues finishing at the rim and knocking down anything mid-range.
Tonight, he started 2-2 on jumpers and clearly seemed to settle into a good rhythm. He ended up 14-24 for the game and hit seven of his 13 attempts outside the paint tonight. He forced some bad ones at times, but those are the ones you just grit your teeth and live with. You can’t really applaud the ones that go in and then scold him for the ones that don’t. Westbrook takes bad shots at times. Also, the sky is blue.
What even happened in this game? I sort of blacked out after Durant did that thing. Oh yeah, right. OKC outscored the Suns 20-13 over the last six minutes to put away a pretty pesky Phoenix squad. Durant and Westbrook obviously did most of the heavy lifting, but serious credit is owed to Kendrick Perkins (season-high 13 rebounds), Thabo Sefolosha, Thabeet and DeAndre Liggins for their quality defense in the second half to go with Westbrook and Durant’s ridiculousness.
The Suns aren’t very good, but this game was a potential trap for OKC. The win in Portland was a major accomplishment and even though the Thunder got one starter back in Thabo, they were still without Serge Ibaka. Scott Brooks was forced to mix and match again, trotting out strange lineups at times. You worry about fatigue, about heavy legs, about that physical game from last night catching up to these guys. That would probably impact some guys. But Durant and Westbrook aren’t humans, so evidently it doesn’t matter. For everyone else, Brooks clearly managed their minutes as he relied on his bench for more help than usual.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a YouTube video I need to watch 60 more times before I go to bed.
- Durant and Westbrook in the second half: 16-28. The rest of the team: 2-8.
- KD went 15-30 from the floor tonight. That’s only the fourth time in his career he’s attempted 30 or more shots in a game. That stat is pretty amazing.
- Perk’s halfcourt heave before halftime was outstanding.
- Lineup to finish the first quarter: Jackson, Liggins, Martin, Jones and Thabeet. My initial reaction was oh my no no no, but after watching them play together for a few minutes, I kind of liked it. Because it made people get out of the way of Perry Jones a bit and allowed him to breath. He stepped into a mid-range jumper with confidence and knocked it down. When Jones plays with Westbrook and Durant, or just one of them, he really seems to drift. He had a much more assertive look when he had a little more scoring responsibility put on him.
- It’s really gonna suck when a Thunder player has to miss a couple games because of a concussion sustained from Perk slapping them in the head. I’d almost worry about doing something good, for fear that Perk abuse was coming with it.
- Liggins didn’t follow up his magic from last night, but he did play 14 quality minutes. One thing about Liggins defense: He is very disciplined. He doesn’t go for pump fakes, he doesn’t really reach, he moves his feet and he just tries to stay in front of his man.
- The play-by-play tells me Kendrick Perkins attempted a 19-foot jumper tonight. I’m pretending I didn’t see that.
- This probably warrants more exploration at another time, but off the top of my head, I’d rank KD’s best dunks like this: 1) Haywood, 2) Hibbert, 3) Gortat.
- Westbrook was really guilty of overshading at times tonight. A couple times he sagged too deep into the lane either trying to dig on a Phoenix big or clog a passing lane and left a shooter wide open for 3.
- Heavens me, Hasheem Thabeet commits some stupid fouls. Between horrible picks and over-hedging, those fouls add up to putting OKC over the limit early.
- A night after setting a new season-high of 12 rebounds, Perk bested that with 13 tonight. I really hope this is a trend.
- Also, Perk’s pick-and-roll defense was pretty excellent, specifically when he re-entered halfway through the fourth quarter. Perk has a really great feel of when and how to stick with the ballhandler and then recover to his man.
- That interview with Kareem… oof.
- The Thunder did give up 14 offensive boards tonight and were outrebounded 48-42, which wasn’t great.
- Amazing to think that at one point, Michael Beasley was considered a better player in the Big 12 than KD.
- Kevin Martin had a much more aggressive, drive-oriented approach to his game tonight. He didn’t just fire away aimlessly from deep. He waited for good looks and when he didn’t have them, put the ball on the floor or got rid of it. He had 12 points on 5-12 shooting, but it wasn’t a bad game. It was a smart one. He knew to just get out of the way and decoy while KD and Westbrook did their things.
- KD postered himself in the first quarter by tripping over his own feet. One thing I liked about it: Notice the awareness by Perk helping on P.J. Tucker while Durant got up.
- We got another taste of the Thabeet power forward experience tonight.
- Brian Davis Line of the Night: “He’s obviously feeling a little bit of a fire in his britches to start the second half.”
Next up: Home against the Nuggets on Wednesday.