It only took three minutes for Kevin Durant to go from screaming mad to laughing hysterically.
With 3:15 left, Durant was called for an iffy charge as the Oklahoma City Thunder trailed the Portland Trail Blazers 93-90. He walked to the sideline, yelled an unprintable word, slammed his hand on the scorer’s table and was hit with a technical foul.
After that: 11 points on 4-of-4 shooting, including three dagger 3-pointers, one after another to put the Blazers away 105-97.
“The way he was playing, he probably could have scored on Jesus,” said Blazers guard Mo Williams.
After the final 3, a second straight walk-up bomb from the top of the key in Nicolas Batum’s face, Durant hopped his way back to the Thunder’s bench flashing a thousand-watt smile. All it took to turn that frown upside down was 46 points on 17-for-25 shooting, which included 5-of-6 for 14 points in the fourth quarter.
“I’m just having fun out there. I’m blessed to play this game,” Durant said. “So every moment I’m on the court is fun for me no matter how the game’s going. When you play this game and you look to the bench and you see your teammates so happy for you, all I can do is smile because I know they’re genuinely happy for me, for the team. It’s a great feeling when you have a group of brothers supporting you no matter what, so that’s what I’m smiling for.”
It also was a little retribution for the last time Portland visited OKC. On New Year’s Eve, a Westbrook-less Thunder led going into the fourth quarter as Durant sat upon 36 on 12-for-21 shooting entering the final frame. The last 12 minutes he went 0-for-5 and scored a single point as the Thunder blew a 16-point lead.
On Tuesday night, with 32 on 12-for-19 shooting after three, Durant wasn’t going down like that again.
“There’s no question we’re seeing an amazing player develop in front of our eyes,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “That’s one of the big reasons why I started wearing my glasses during the game, so I can see it. I didn’t miss the 54-point night and I didn’t miss tonight.” ESPN
Kevin Durant scored 46 points on 25 shot attempts. That sort of efficiency from the perimeter is absolutely mind-blowing. Also, make a note that Durant is averaging 36.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 5.6 assists in the last 14 games without Russell Westbrook on the court. – AL