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News » Thunder finishes job

Thunder finishes job

Thunder finishes job
Kevin Durant got it right this time, coming through in the clutch like franchise players are counted on to do.

Durant led the Thunder to a 114-102 overtime win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night by dominating the extra period with a mix of scoring, defense, rebounding, passing and game-clinching free throws.

Durant scored a game-high 35 points with 10 rebounds, six assists and four blocked shots in 49 minutes. He recorded eight points, four rebounds, one assist and one block in the final five minutes.

"We're watching a guy develop in front of (our) eyes, and we're seeing some good things," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "And it's all a direct result of how hard he works. He's obviously a talented player, but talent only gets you so far. He uses his talent along with his work ethic, and he's a self-motivated kid. Those combinations are what make winning Basketball players."

Despite posting eye-popping stats this season, Durant has struggled to rise to the occasion in the clutch, especially over the past month. He hit a go-ahead 3-pointer against Denver on Jan. 2 with 2.7 seconds remaining, but Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony stole the show with a game-winning 3-pointer with 0.1 left on the clock. A string of disappointments followed that heartbreaking loss. Durant missed a potential game-tying 20-footer with 9.3 seconds remaining against Houston on Jan. 9.

One night later, he missed a potential game-winning 22-footer with 1.9 seconds remaining against Chicago. And he misfired on a 20-footer from the top of the key with 36.5 seconds remaining against New Jersey on Jan. 12.

Against the Los Angeles Clippers last Friday, Durant scored 46 points with 15 rebounds, both career-highs, but the Thunder lost 107-104.

Durant's overtime effort Wednesday, however, was much more impressive than a single shot to win the game. He scored or assisted on 10 of the Thunder's 14 points in the extra period to help Oklahoma City outscore Memphis 14-2 the last five minutes.

Durant blocked a dunk attempt by O.J. Mayo with 2:08 remaining to preserve a four-point lead. He followed a Russell Westbrook miss with a two-handed dunk at the other end and pushed the lead to 110-102 when he drove through the lane before finding Earl Watson alone under the basket for a layup.

"Kevin's going to make winning plays," Brooks said. "He makes them throughout the game.

"What happens is you get caught up in the last play and rightfully so, but you make winning Basketball plays throughout the game. And with Kevin, he's 20 years old, and he understands that there's going to be times where he takes the shot, and there are going to be times where he has to pass the ball. And he's learning that as the season goes on."

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: January 31, 2009


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