I am out of the words.
I am out of the words to say about Kevin Durant.
So I’m just going to do this: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Durant said it last night after the Rockets game: “There’s always another level I can go to.” And I think we saw a little of that level tonight.
A career-high 54 points on 19-28 shooting, 5-9 from 3, four rebounds, two steals and six assists.
Let it wash over you for a moment. Maybe open a window and scream out of it. I currently have two fans running inches from my face trying to cool me down. Kevin Durant has played some insane basketball the last six years, and had some unbelievable games. But this right here might be his masterpiece.
Said Durant: “As a leader my main objective is to serve my teammates. How can I help them out. Some nights I’ve got to put it up, I’ve got to score. Some nights I’ve got to do other things. Tonight, they found me and I was able to hit a few shots. And I just tried to do the best I could to lead the team and lead us to victory. It’s far from just me. Kendrick Perkins did a great job of rebounding. Serge did a great job hitting shots. Everybody just played hard and of course they’re going to see me hitting a few shots, but it’s the small things that go into a game that help us win and everybody did them tonight.”
After KD hit his third straight 3 in the fourth quarter, it started to hit me. I’m watching maybe Durant’s best game ever, and I’m going to have to write about it. I’m going to have to say something about what I saw, what I sat 20 feet away from and attempt to summarize it in an acceptable way. I came to the conclusion very quickly that like Draymond Green checking Durant, I was going to fail.
What Durant did tonight was all-time special. It’s not like what we saw was shocking or anything, though. The incredible thing about KD is that he’s absolutely capable of repeating this all over again on Sunday. But this, this was just beautiful to watch. It was like everything he’s been doing the last few weeks without Russell Westbrook finally came together and worked over a 48 minute span. It was all within the flow. None of it was forced, even the last five minutes when it was entirely clear that it was get-the-ball-to-Durant time.
Oh, and it was against a really good Western opponent on national television. It’s still too early to make any real MVP statement, but this is absolutely the kind of game you file away in the memory bank for later. The way Durant carried his team — again — against a good team behind a transcendent performance… that’s what MVP seasons are made of.
“That’s premature man. It’s still early in the season,” Durant said of the MVP talk. “I try not to think about that type of stuff. Of course as a player, you’d love to win an MVP award. Can’t think about that, can’t take my focus off the team. Every day I’ve got to just keep chipping away, keep enjoying the process and we’ll see what happens.”
Durant’s studio 54 is obviously the story, but a Thunder win is also kind of notable. They picked up back-to-back wins over the Rockets and Warriors, and did it one night behind a historic defensive performance, and the next behind a supernova scoring night from KD. I don’t know if they’re necessarily figuring things out, or if Kevin Durant is just currently orbiting around our planet like a satellite, but the Thunder are playing the best they’ve ever played without Russell Westbrook.
“I’ve always felt that we have a good system,” said Scott Brooks. “I’m just glad we didn’t change the starting lineups and put KD coming off the bench. That was one of my better moves I’ve done in the last two games.”
In conclusion, Kevin Durant.
- Brooks’ first line postgame: “I thought it was a good team win.” Yeeeeeeeeeeah.
- Durant’s average now: 30.6 ppg.
- Something to remember: This was on the second night of a back-to-back for KD. Played 43 minutes last night and had 36.
- OK, one thing to talk about in this one is how awkward things got between Durant and Jackson late in the fourth quarter as KD was going off. It’s not that Jackson refused to feed KD, it’s just that instead of giving it up and getting completely out of the way, he was trying to insert himself juuuuust a little too much in it. At one point after Jackson failed to get it to him, KD said as they ran back “Just throw me the ball.” It’s not that KD was mad, but he was, I’ll say, annoyed at Jackson’s inability to force feed the ball to him.
- Here’s my guess on what happened: I don’t think Jackson was hogging or trying to torpedo KD’s moment. I think he was just trying a little too hard to get KD a good shot. Like he was diligently trying to run point guard and do his job and set Durant up with a clean look. When really, all he needed to do was pass the damn ball to Durant and go stand by halfcourt.
- An impressive moment from KD late in the fourth: He had a 2-on-1 break sitting on 54 and instead forcing the issue for more points, he made the right play and dropped it to Ibaka for a layup.
- KD hit a bunch of shots from the right wing in the fourth quarter. On that he said, “I’ve been working on that shot, the right wing. It used to be the shot I missed the most. People that put in the work like we do throughout the summers and the seasons, I’m starting to make it a little bit better. I think I’m starting to get a little worse on the left wing. I’ve got to figure out how to be good on both sides.”
- What does KD do after dropping a career-high 54? Walks to the shower singing the Sesame Street theme song. (UPDATE: KD actually might’ve been singing this New Edition song. All I heard was “sunnnn-ny dayyyyyys” and both songs have that in them, so it’s kind of hard to know.)
- Brooks on the offense OKC was running in the fourth: “We have to get a set to put him in spot where he feels comfortable, which is any time you cross halfcourt. But tonight we were running the plays and if they’re guarding him one-on-one, he’s going to have the ability to score.”
- The Warriors did what the Rockets could not with 1:37 left in the third, scoring their 20th and 21st points of the second half.
- Perk played a pretty nice game despite a few customary offensive snafus.
- It does say something about your starting center though when you see “12” next his name for rebounds and you go, “whoa!”
- Serge Ibaka with another tremendous performance supporting Durant: 21 points on 8-11 shooting and eight rebounds. Ibaka’s last two games, he’s got 42 points, 23 rebounds and shot 18-24 from the floor.
- What Draymond Green is to the Warriors is what Perry Jones should strive to be for the Thunder. That might be setting the bar a bit low for the potential Jones has, but I’m talking that kind of impact player.
- Durant: “When I’ve got it going, I look at the bench and see how my teammates are reacting and that just gives me an extra push. Then I hear the fans. It’s unbelievable playing for this city and playing in this building.”
- The second quarter was absolutely brutal tonight. There were 21 free throws taken… in the final 2:30 of the quarter! For such a wonderfully fun offensive game, it was completely ruined with whistles for a solid six minutes.
- Subtle thing that’s different about Jackson’s pullup jumper this season: When he plants on it, he jumps back just a touch. Not to fade on it, just he stops his momentum by pushing back just a tad. Seems like he keeps him a lot more squared on target than he used to be.
- You know KD had a great game when Stephen Curry goes for 37 on 11-18 shooting with 11 assists and NO ONE is talking about it.
- The Warriors shot 16-27 from 3. And lost!
- For as incredible as the offense was in this game, the Warriors missed 15 free throws, and the Thunder missed nine. Kind of strange.
- Curry had 22 at the half, and while he still had 15 in the second, I thought Thabo Sefolosha did a great job making him work. Scott Brooks nailed it pregame saying that they wanted to “get into Curry’s handle” because he’s a bit turnover prone. He had seven tonight.
- There have been 16 40-point games in the NBA this season. KD has four of them.
- There has been one 50-point game in the NBA this season. KD has the one of them.
- Derek Fisher’s two-handed block on Draymond Green at the end of the first quarter might be my favorite play of the season.
- That Perk fadeaway.
- That Perk eurostep.
- It looked like Durant was going to play the entire second half tonight when he started the fourth quarter, but he checked out after one possession just 32 seconds in. The Thunder ran a skip pass play with Durant passing to Fisher on that possession, so it was obvious Brooks was trying to sneak a quick go-to play in for three points and then give KD a breather. Fisher missed, but pretty slick bit of game management.
- Durant sat for a minute and a half before checking back in.
- I maintain that Steven Adams needs a big bushy Selleck-esque mustache.
- Had a couple people suggest on Twitter that Adams and Collison need a nickname. I’m going with Bash Brothers. Adams is such a Portman.
- I don’t know what the deal is with Adams, but man, he gets some bogus fouls called on him. Fouled out tonight after just 11 minutes, making this two straight he’s been disqualified. First two of his career, in fact.
- Pregame in the locker room, Royal Ivey was giving Perry Jones crap about going to Baylor, asking him how much money he got paid because why would anyone live in Waco. It’s good to have Royal back.
- Some have been making a big deal about The Peake and the lack of an MVP chant for Durant. I remember the past few seasons there have been LOUD ones for him, just later in the year. I really think this is a complete non-issue, and really, a weird thing to care about.
- Durant was asked about the MVP chants: “It is 20,000 people here. It’s kind of hard not to hear it.”
- You know you’ve watched something special when you feel completely inadequate to write about it. I mean, that was just awesome.
Next up: Home against the Kings on Sunday