While the point guard battle between Russell Westbrook and Deron Williams probably drew most of the individual attention in the game, there was simply no player on the floor quite like Kevin Durant. The man is in better shape than anyone else in the NBA right now, and was the main reason the Oklahoma City Thunder won for a sixth straight time.
Not just a sixth straight win; The Thunder become only the second team to beat the Nets in Brooklyn this season. They also scored 100 points (117-111) for the 10th straight time, which hasn’t happened to the franchise (remember the Supersonics?) since 1997.
Different players, same results. The Oklahoma City Thunder are showing that missing James Harden isn’t on the table, and is maybe happening in social circles, nothing else. When it comes to basketball, they’re playing as well as anyone else in the NBA right now. They have the best offense at the moment, averaging 105.7 points and the highest scoring margin with 9.6 per game. They won their previous four games going into the game vs Brooklyn averaging wins by 25 points. Their 15-4 record is second best in the West at the moment. As if nothing’s changed.
And that’s because it looks like they’ve adjusted to life without James Harden, and that Russell Westbrook is just going to have to grow up. This was the kind of game you want to see from Westbrook, at least on the offensive side of the ball. He finished with 25 points and 9 assists, making 9-17 from the field. No one’s expecting Westbrook to stop shooting the ball; they just wanted him to improve his decision making. After losing 2 of their first 3 games this season, the Thunder have gone on a 13-2 run so far, losing to Memphis and Boston along the way.
Kevin Martin wasn’t a big part of the win against the Nets, scoring 7 points, but he’s averaging over 15 points per game while shooting 46.3% from the field. It’s about making the most of the role given to you, and Martin is playing the Disciplined shooter from the bench to near perfection so far.
Kevin Durant is above roles. He’s here to score, to be better than anyone else. While Deron Williams could matchup and beat Westbrook when it came to individual production, the Nets had no one to do the same with Durant. No one in the league, except for a couple of names max (LeBron & Carmelo?) can do it against Durant. The NBA’s leading scorer dropped 32 points, adding 5 rebounds and 6 assists. He’s averaging 28.5 points per game in the last four games; He’s had five 30+ points since November 14.
All the changes and the hype during the summer, the Oklahoma City Thunder stand tall, on top (sharing it) of the Western conference. The Lakers don’t look like a team capabale of challenging anything or anyone at the moment. It’s up to the Grizzlies and Spurs, maybe the Clippers to stop last year’s finalists from reaching the same place again. If this kind of balance remains, with Kevin Durant not having to worry what the minions and Russell Westbrook around him do, it’s going to be very hard to stop them.