Not the best of games from Kevin Durant, but it doesn’t really matter when you size down the time-frame to only a fourth quarter, in which the top scorer in the NBA thrived with his usual unstoppable shooting, leading his Oklahoma City Thunder to a seasonal sweep of the Dallas Mavericks.
I was frustrated with myself early on and I wanted to stick with it. My teammates kept coming to me. So I just wanted to come through for them.
Durant scored 31 points (adding 9 rebounds) in the 107-101 win, 19 of them coming in the final quarter, including seven straight made field goals. Russell Westbrook was the actual star for the Thunder throughout the game, surprisingly the more consistent force on offense (13-23 from the field), scoring 35 points.
Westbrook put up a few highlight dunks for the collection, but is most important role was keeping the tempo fast and a bit out of reach for the Dallas Mavericks, who prefer a much slower type of basketball, and it wasn’t surprising to see them being beat by the Thunder for the fourth time this season, always falling in some sort of stretch during the tighter games, not really managing to keep up.
That’s what it seems to come down to every game. It comes down to the last two or three minutes of the game.
With two free throws, Dirk Nowitzki made it 101-101 and 1:20 left on the clock. The Mavericks focused on Durant, giving Russell Westbrook the opportunity to shine in the clutch, as the point guard nailed a long jumper to make it 103-101, and then Kevin Durant made a big play on defense, stopping Mike James.
Thabo Sefolosha of all people was the one who made the crucial basket, giving the Thunder a 105-101 lead, which was too late and too far away to try and overcome for the Mavs, as Sefolosha scored only 2 of his four points on that play, sending the Mavs even further down the pecking order of the Western Conference, with the playoffs looking more and more out of reach.
For the Thunder, it’s still about the chase after the San Antonio Spurs, hoping that the fact that Tony Parker is injured will eventually start paying dividends to the chasing teams. At 50-17, the Thunder are one game behind the Spurs, waiting eagerly for that slip up, hoping that their own superstar duo continue to come up with kind of plays they have been so far, even when it isn’t about “beautiful” or the “right kind” of basketball, like the Spurs have.
Derek Fisher played 12 minutes for the Thunder, getting a fair share of boos from the Dallas crowd after pulling a dirty trick on them this season. He played nine games for the Mavs earlier in the season but asked to be released after picking up an injury, citing the need to be closer to his family and daughter. A few months go by, and Fisher prefers signing with the Oklahoma City Thunder, as suddenly the need to be with his family wasn’t so great, when an NBA title option was on the line for him to grab. He’s hoping that it turns out better than it did last season. The Mavs are hoping something awful happens to him along the way.