Tag: Kevin Durant
We were excited to see a matchup between Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony, the two most prolific scorers in the league as the Thunder hosted the streaking Knicks at home. New York has win 12 straight games after pulling off a 125-120 win on the road over Oklahoma City and at 50-26 for the season, this team is proving that they know exactly when to push for it. They are currently the hottest team in the league. Not only did they defeated the Miami Heat in this run, albeit, the Heat was a bit shorthanded at the moment, but they also managed to defeat the Thunder in a game were Russell Westbrook had 37 points, 11 rebounds and 8 assists and Kevin Durant had 27 points and 7 assists. Yes, what is impressive is not that they pulled off the win, but rather that they did so on the road against a team that played so well down to the last second.
And that sort of battle is exactly what we are expecting to see in the Playoffs. This was certainly a postseason caliber game. But it was J.R. Smith who once again proved his potential in clutch situations. Facing crunch time, Raymond Felton sprinted into the paint were he slip and lost control. He barely managed to stretch over the floor and slap the ball towards J.R. Smith who, without missing a beat, took a step and made a three-pointer that would seal the deal for the Knicks.
If Felton was the crunch time sensation, it was Carmelo Anthony who kept on proving that he knows how to be in the right place in the right moment. He would go on to finish the night with 36 points and 12 rebounds. But J.R. Smith was the guy who pulled off the tricky shots. He finished with 22 points, including the two biggest shots of the game. First he connected a 23-foot jumper from the right as the 24-second clock expired to put New York up 117-113 with 1:30 to play. From there on the Knicks never looked back but it didn’t meant they were out of the troubled waters. He followed that with 3-pointer with 56.8 seconds left that all but sealed New York’s 50th win of the season.
Durant has now barely fell behind Carmelo Anthony as the leading scorer in the league. “We’re good. We’ve got five more games to go,” said Durant in the postgame press conference. He wouldn’t talk about it but it seems that this time he’s chances of been the NBA Scoring Champion for the 4th time in a row are seriously hurting. After the win, Carmelo Anthony’s scoring average improved one-tenth of a point to 28.44, while Durant’s stayed about the same at 28.35. “We lost a tough one. This team, they shot the ball well tonight. They hit some tough shots all night. We forced them to shoot some tough ones and they hit them(…). You’ve got to tip your hat to them, but other than that, what’s the need to panic for? We’re good.
Even on a day when things don’t seem to be working out for Kevin Durant, it looks as if the All-Star player from the Oklahoma City Thunder still can manage to pull off a card under his sleeve. It took him eight shots before he could actually make his first basket, but once he got rolling, there was no stopping him. Russell Westbrook would step up his game and would finish the night with 28 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists while Durant would make it pass an early slump to chip in with 26 points to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 124-94 crushing of the Rockets at Houston. This is certainly a winning ticket for this squad. As a matter of fact, when both of these guys are hot, the Thunder is a very hard team to beat. Consider for a moment that Oklahoma City is now 12-3 when Durant and Westbrook each score more than 20 points. And this sort of blowout on away games is just spectacular. Let’s consider that this has been the biggest on-the-road win for the Thunder since they defeated the Clippers 126-85 on April 15, 2009 at the Staples Center.
The Oklahoma City Thunder built up a very significant lead in the second quarter that gave them a comfortable 68-50 lead before heading into the halftime break. Durant, who struggled with his shooting game throughout the first quarter, got rolling in the second quarter when the visiting team put on a 16-0 rally that included 11 points by Durant. They took the lead and never looked back. “The end of the second quarter is what pushed us over the top, and that third quarter was really good as well,” Durant said in the postgame press conference. “We started off so well, got some steals, got some fast-break points. So it was a good one.”
Power Forward Marcus Morris guided the weakening Houston Rockets efforts with 24 points and 6 rebounds, but the truth is that they never held a chance against the Thunders offense. James Harden, the former Oklahoma City player went on to score 25 points for the Rockets, but it would really do much of a difference. Truth is that for long periods of time in both the second and third quarter it seemed as if the Rockets offense had been simply shut down. Incidentally, it was going to be his replacement, Kevin Martin, who came to Oklahoma City in the trade for Harden, would manage to finish the night with 19 points including five 3-pointers.
At the end we all know that the game was lost in the second quarter stretch. Nothing seemed to be working out for the Rockets. “I told the guys there’s a flow in the game and you’ve got to recognize that flow sometimes and you’ve got to know when it’s time to make the extra pass, when it’s time to be extra careful with the ball,” said the Rockets head coach Kevin McHale. The cold fact is that Houston committed four turnovers and missing six shots during that dismal stretch. The Rockets went almost five minutes without a field goal, and that’s just simply terrible for a professional team.
At 12-17 for the season, the Dallas Mavericks are very far away from been the team that two seasons ago reached the pinnacle of professional basketball. Most of the pieces that saw the Mavs win the National Championship are still there, but either because of injury or trade, things are not exactly the same, and it is those slight changes that make the overall result be this different. The league, on the other hand, has also changed. Teams that just a few seasons ago were not expected to make much of themselves are actually been dominant and holding their ground, while, teams that were legacy, are now doing what they can to catch up. There’s an upside for all of this: the league is not only more competitive, it is very entertaining as well.
The Oklahoma City thunder were eager to keep on their momentum and rhythm while playing at the Chesapeake Energy Arena, winning their 11th consecutive game at home, and even though they had to go into overtime to do so, the Thunder outplayed the Mavericks behind Kevin Durant and his 40 point effort to take a 111-105 win. This time, however, it was going to be up to Russell Westbrook to bring on his A-game down the stretch. He has a very mediocre first three quarter, but he sure came out strong in overtime.
Westbrook took control of the game scoring 8 of his 16 points in overtime including a phenomenal streak were he scored six straight points after the Mavs had gone up 104-101 on Chris Kaman basket halfway into the extra period. Just to get them into the right rhythm, get them ahead and never look back Westbrook singlehandedly had a layup, scored a beautiful jumper over Dirk Nowitzki and then made a leaping steal of an O.J. Mayo pass that led to a fast-break layup. This was so outstanding and so nerve breaking for Dallas that the Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban, was seen on television shaking his head in his seat near his team’s bench.
He had a phenomenal finish. Westbrook himself knew that he was out of this world in the last minutes of the game. “Sometimes there’s nights like that,” Westbrook said in the post game press conference. “You’ve just got to continue to play, fight through it and play your game.” His head coach, Scott Brooks knows that the player with whom he has had sort of a up-and-down relationship saved them on this game to improve their season record to 22-6. Brooks asked Russell to keep on fighting, to keep on been aggressive. And he delivered. “I love Russell. I love what he does. I love what he’s about. He competes every time. He’s a big part of why we’re a good team.” Said brooks about Westbrook after the game.
Dirk Nowitzki is coming out of injury and wasn’t nearly as aggressive and accurate in clutch time as we have grown used to. He wanted to keep the ball away from his hands in the final minutes and that could have cost the Mavericks the game. “I didn’t really want the ball that much,” Nowitzki said. “I don’t really feel like I’ve got the stamina, the lift to do something out there with the ball, make a one-on-one move.
Sure enough at 8-3 for the season and with Kevin Durant at the helm, things are looking quite well for the Oklahoma City Thunder. There is no doubt about Durant’s shooting ability and his terrific numbers as an offensive weapon have given him three NBA scoring championships. He is, however, making huge efforts to change his game, to diversify his portfolio, if you will, and become a more solid all-around player. Well, last night, against the Golden State Warrios, he took a huge step in that direction. Finishing the night with 25 points, 13 rebounds and a career-high 10 assists, Kevin Durant guided the Thunder to a 119-109 win over the Warriors, while signing off his first ever triple-double.
Durant made an effort to look quite cool about it. “I really didn’t care, to be honest. If it came, then that’s cool. If it didn’t, then just keep playing,” Durant said. “It feels good to get one. Now, I guess I’ve got a little monkey off my back. I can just go out there and play.” But it was a big deal. And it’s a good sign for the Thunder. They need Durant to become a more versatile player if they want to have a better chance of bringing in an NBA Championship. It’s not an easy task to change one’s game, the way he’s been playing his whole life. There’s a steep learning curve. Consider for a moment that his improvement in his assists per game numbers coincide with an increase in his turnovers. He came in averaging four turnovers per game, the fourth-worst in the league. The improvements, however, are there. In his first NBA season, he finished off with more turnover than assists in each of those seasons. Now, however, Kevin Durant is starting to reverse that trend. He’s also grabbing about two more rebounds per game than any other time in his career. And it all adds up to a better all around player.
But there was more to the Thunder than just Durant. As a matter of fact, Russell Westbrook scored 30 points and 7 assists while Kevin Martin had 23 points and 5 assists coming off the bench. Martin has been quite a pleasant surprise for Oklahoma City which also had a season-high 31 assists for the second straight game and a season high in points. It’s a big collective effort. Let’s consider that between Durant, Westbrook and Martin they generated 22 assists for the team.
The Warriors did what they could but the Thunder’s trio was way too much to deal with. Stephen Curry led Golden State with 22 points, and David Lee chipped in 19 points and 10 rebounds. Overall we could say that Golden State played well. Carl Landry had 14 points and Jarrett Jack scored 12. They even managed to finish off shooting 52 percent from the field. But it wasn’t enough. The thing is that defensively, the Wariors had nothing to stop down Oklahoma City. They managed to bring down the lead to a 1-point deficit before the halftime break. But once they returned from the break, they never held a chance.