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News » Off night puts Durant in fix-it mode

Off night puts Durant in fix-it mode

Off night puts Durant in fix-it modeLOS ANGELES - Kevin Durant's most shameful NBA performance laid the foundation for him to take the next step in his career.

You probably remember the game well. Durant's 3-for-20 shooting performance on Nov. 1 is not easily forgotten. But the best thing about it is Durant didn't want to let it go. He identified what went wrong and vowed to himself that he'd correct it.

The problem? Too many jump shots.

"I wasn't getting to the rim as much as I wanted to or I was supposed to in order to help my team," Durant said. "Once I had that game I said I can't do that again."

The difference in Durant has been ten fold. He's now getting to the basket more than he ever has. It's led to better production, greater efficiency and, most importantly, has put Durant, in his third season, on the verge of becoming a truly unstoppable player.

Entering Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Lakers, Durant had scored at least 30 points in five of the past seven games, largely the result of his newfound ability to attack the rim. Durant's improved driving ability was on display throughout Friday's 127-108 win over Washington, as he routinely took Wizards forward Caron Butler, regarded as a dogged defender, off the dribble. Durant netted 12 of 22 shots and went to the free throw line 13 times on his way to a 35-point night.

"I'm getting more comfortable with the game," Durant said. "Even if I don't get all the way to the rim and get layups I'm getting easier pull-up jump shots. That's where my mid-range game comes in. I'm just always trying to attack and be aggressive when I get the ball and put pressure on the defense."

For the 6-foot-10 inch Durant, who already can easily rise and shoot over just about any defender, an ability to penetrate consistently will round out his game and make him that much more dangerous as a scorer. It's a skill he didn't possess as a rookie who settled for 3-pointers and still lacked as a second-year player who still was too much of a featherweight to go to the rim frequently. And because the Thunder likes to drive and dish, Durant's set-up skills will also improve as a result.

But Durant's enhanced driving ability represents the latest wrinkle he's added to his repertoire after working on his mid-range game and penchant for manufacturing points with a swing through move that gets him an easy trip to the foul line.

"This year it's all coming together," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "He still has to get better at it, but he's definitely looking to attack the basket. He's not a one-dimensional scorer who just shoots shots from the perimeter. He mixes it up. He drives, he gets layups, he gets to the free-throw line by attacking the basket. You can see the work that he's put in the last two years is starting to come around and pay off."

A byproduct is additional trips to the free-throw line. Durant averaged 5.6 attempts as a rookie, 7.1 last season and before Sunday night's game was at 9.7 foul shots per game. It's a trend that suggests Durant can soon average 30 points. Of the eight times that a player has averaged at least 30 points in the past five seasons, only Kobe Bryant has averaged less than nine free throw attempts.

But, despite his new dimension, Durant still doesn't think he can lead the league in scoring.

"Hopefully if I continue to be aggressive, my points will start to go up so I can help my team win games," Durant said. "But as of right now it's too many guys that can score in this league."

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Author: Fox Sports
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Added: November 26, 2009


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