It seems Kevin Durant has gotten used quite quickly to playing with Russell Westbrook, as we can see from the ease in which he puts up points while doing a lot more than just scoring, and more importantly from the winning streak the Oklahoma City Thunder are currently on.
The bad patch of the season began with a 98-94 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers at home, one of only three home defeats for the Thunder this season. They lost five times through eight games since December 31, but things have been adjusting; the Thunder have won their last four games, including three against playoff teams like the Rockets, Warriors and now the Blazers, having a little bit of payback.
The Portland Trail Blazers were already slightly tired from their loss in Houston, so following it up with a visit to Oklahoma City wasn’t what they had in mind. The Blazers had a 5 points lead (95-90) with just over three minutes left in the game, but they completely fell apart in the end. Kevin Durant knocked down every shot possible, finishing with 46 points, his 8th consecutive game of 30 points or more. Kendrick Perkins of all players was the one to do the little things, which included a huge block on Damian Lillard in an attempt from him to tie the game and then knocking down a corner jump shot to give the Thunder a 4-point lead.
Perk and Serge did a great job early on contesting LaMarcus’ jump shot, but he’s a great player and he was knocking them down. In the fourth quarter, of course, after playing last night, he’s a little tired. We forced him all the way out close to the 3-point line and made him shoot some tough ones and we were able to rebound and hit shots on the other end.
The Thunder were down 93-90 when Durant was called for an offensive foul. He has promised to try and stay more calm this season, but he couldn’t help himself but get into a shouting match with the referees and get T’d up.
It was really a stupid, stupid reaction by me. I could have hurt my team really badly. I was just more frustrated with myself, turning the ball over. I can’t hurt my team like that. This time, it went in our direction. Next time, I’ve got to be smarter.
The Thunder outscored the Blazers, who were the better team for almost the entire game, 12-2 to come away with the 105-97 win. The Blazers tried different looks on Durant – Wesley Matthews and Nicoals Batum most of the time, but it didn’t really help. The Thunder kept setting screens through Perkins which worked, but Durant was hot enough to ignore any attempt for set offense, simply pulling up from wherever he wanted, finishing with 17-of-25 from the field, including 6-of-7 from beyond the arc.
You look up, he’s hitting 50 and 45 and 50 again and 40 and up. We knew coming in that he’s been shooting the ball well. We’re not happy. Last year we were happy coming off a road trip at .500. We’re not that team any more. We didn’t come out with the right energy and the right mentality against Houston and they were ready for us. We came out with the right mentality early in this game and KD had a hell of a fourth quarter, so it’s bitter.
The Blazers fall to 31-11, losing two in a row. The Thunder once again have an edge again with a 32-10 record. Aside from Durant, the Thunder shot only 40.3% from the field. Scott Brooks knows from experience that relying on Durant to look superhuman each night isn’t exactly the best course of action, but considering the cards he’s been dealt, this is the best he can hope for.