All the comparisons with the star of his former team haven’t really been kind to Kevin Martin, brought over to the Oklahoma City Thunder to fill the role of a spot up shooter from the bench, forced to do something bigger with Russell Westbrook falling down. Kevin Durant led the way to a Game 6 win, but it was Martin who was the difference maker, finally making the most of a terrible Rockets defense.
Kevin Durant scored 27 points and got to qualify into the conference semifinals for the first time without Russell Westbrook at his side, clinching a 103-94 win in game 6. Durant was made for the big moments, the clutch and the fourth quarters. While Kevin Martin did most of the damage in the first half, it was Durant who took over the game when it looked like the Rockets were about to run away with it.
The Thunder were down by 8, 5:03 left in the third quarter. Kevin Durant took over with ball handling once again, scoring 16 points and adding 5 assists from that point on, scoring or assisting on 28 of the 39 final 39 points the Thunder scored.
Everyone in Houston was sure of a game 7. That was the feeling around the arena, among the players. But James Harden had another awful shooting game (7-22), not trusting his teammates enough when he should have. Jeremy Lin, once again, shouldn’t have played, doing more damage than good during his 12 minutes of basketball. Omer Asik and Chandler Parsons probably needed to see more of the ball.
Meanwhile, it was about stepping up for certain players on the Thunder. Reggie Jackson is no Russell Westbrook, but he’s not such a bad option to start for him. He finished with 17 points an 8 assists, getting only three minutes of rest during the game, making it 17.3 points per game for him since getting the starting role for Westbrook. Derek Fisher played his part with a clinic in big game shooting, scoring 11 points on 4-6 from the field and 3-5 from beyond the arc.
That was one of our best Thunder team wins that we’ve had all season. The guys really laid everything on the line, and that’s what playoff basketball is all about. That’s what team basketball is all about, and I liked the guys’ commitment to helping each other out.
The Thunder, believe it or not, might be underdogs heading into the next series. There were too many close moments against a very flawed team like the Houston Rockets, needing a lucky bounce or two to prevent a game 7, not to mention having a terrible coach working in front of them. Individual talent from Kevin Durant can only get you so far, and Kevin Martin scoring like he used to during his best days takes you further just a little bit.
But the Memphis Grizzlies are a different story, especially when they actually look like a team finally confident of their offensive abilities. Unless Durant takes his game to another level and the rest of the team follows by raising their games to, the absence of Russell Westbrook is going to be felt quite strongly.