When the season ends and Kevin Durant once again hopes that someone recognizes him as the best player in the NBA, he’ll hope to look back to when the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 113-103, mostly thanks to his triple double and taking over in the final minutes of the game to seal yet another home win.
Why the Jordan comparison? Durant scored 32 points, adding 10 rebounds, 12 assists, 4 steals and 4 blocks on 14-21 shooting. He is the first player with a 30-10-10-4-4 stat line in the regular season since Michael Jordan did it in 1988. They are the only players to hit all those benchmarks in the same game since blocks and steals became an official stat in the 1973-1974 season.
There’s more than just numbers to Durant, even though he’s known to be someone that really cares about them as well. It was about his ability to ignore whatever went wrong for most of the game, which was quite a lot for the Thunder, especially on defense, and completely take over a game. He isn’t usually credited for his defense but Durant can put more of an effort into it and look quite good, guarding more than just one type of player. It is games like these, when everything come together for him, that you recognize his claim to be the best in the league.
This was something of a revenge thing for Durant, as the Thunder lost by 19 points to the Timberwolves in the second game of the season, but that was before Russell Westbrook came back from his injury. Werstbrook had a quiet game with 19 points, but at least he didn’t make things worse with irresponsible defense in the final quarter. Him remaining focused, like the rest of his teammates, brought the big change in the game, along with Durant’s special night, improving his scoring average to 28.3 points per game.
It was yet another comeback for the Thunder who were down by 11 in the first half and losing by five when entering the final quarter. They also came back from double-digit, second-half deficits in wins over Denver and Washington. A relatively weak performance from Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love was too much for the Timberwolves to overcome, despite the strong performances from Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic.
Scott Brooks – Kevin is a stat filler. He can do it all and he has the ability to have large scoring nights, rebounding, assists and steals and blocked shots. He’s one of the few guys that can do that. That’s what makes us a good defensive team, because he can guard not only his man, he can guard multiple positions.