While Kevin Durant showed the entire range of scoring and leadership, especially in the final moments, Kevin Love provided what can be described as nothing else but a choke job, costing the Minnesota Timberwolves a victory over the vulnerable Oklahoma City Thunder by missing from the line.
With the Thunder leading 113-111, Kevin Love got 3 shots from the line to try and win the game, or at least bring them back the lead after dropping a 13-lead earlier to Durant’s fourth quarter onslaught. Love seemed a bit exhausted from his effort during the game, and missed all 3 shots (the last one on purpose), giving the Thunder a chance to seal the 115-111 win.
As expected, the Thunder weren’t bringing anything sophisticated to the table. No Westbrook? It simply means we’ll see more from Kevin Durant. He finished with 48 points on isos and simple off the ball screens, including 23 points in the final quarter, including a shot with 5 seconds left that gave the Thunder the lead for good.
Kevin Durant – I just hear a lot of stuff and I just wanted to come through for my team in the fourth quarter. I was hanging my head a little bit in the first half and my teammates got on me about it. So I just wanted to keep my head high no matter what and stay aggressive and I was able to hit a few.
Scott Brooks – The special ones can have a poor shooting night and come down at the end of the game and make four or five to win the game. That’s how they’re wired because they’re great players. He loves to inspire his teammates with his play.
These weren’t the only free throws Love missed. Before Durant knocked down his clutch jumper, Love tied the game at 111-111 by driving on Serge Ibaka and powering his way to the rim, getting the foul as well. He missed that free throw too. He finished with 30 points (including five from beyond the arc) and 12 rebounds, but his misses in crunch time are what he’ll remember.
Durant was the exact opposite, looking like nothing was going to make him miss in the final moments. He scored 48 points in the game on 16-of-32 from the field. Unfortunately for him and the Thunder, coming off two straight losses, it’s going to take these kind of efforts to get them through on many nights, as the hole left by Russell Westbrook can’t be autmoatically filled by Reggie Jackson (10 points) and Jeremy Lamb (9 points).
The Thunder are now 26-7, still the best in the West by record, but it seems that it’s only a matter of time before teams catch up to them. Unless Kevin Durant is really in his MVP season, which means he’s going to put up these kind of shows. For the Timberwolves, who got nothing from their bench (only five points from four players), it takes more than Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic scoring more than 30 points in order to get them wins against quality teams.