Let’s just get it out of the way: Kevin Durant is a damn good basketball player. Once he started firing last night, he didn’t stop until the final buzzer.
Durant had 29 points by halftime, and ended the game with 39 points. He shot 7-11 from three-point range, and added seven rebounds.
He was clearly playing inspired basketball, which could have helped when he appeared to be sleepwalking through the ultimate games of the Western Conference Finals. Thunder fans are used to seeing his patented pull-up threes in transition, but last night was the first time of being on the wrong side of them.
So, that’s how that feels.
I’m no expert at lip reading, but I’m 90% Enes Kanter is also wondering where KD was in late May. He appeared to ask Durant where his transcendent play was when it mattered the most:
Kevin Durant vs. Enes Kanter war of words (full exchange) pic.twitter.com/4bC8EWFuou
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) November 4, 2016
After the game, Durant was asked about the exchange, and he teed off on Kanter: “What did he play, 3 minutes? I’m sure he’s going to put something on Twitter tonight.” Ouch.
And that’s all the Durant talk I’m going to write about today. Durant was the biggest reason Golden State won–I just don’t know how much you can stomach. Here, try a palate cleanser or two:
New addition Jerami Grant throws it down over Kevin Durant in the first quarter in Thunder fans’ first taste of revenge. And, in a way, a little bit of all of us were dunking on Durant, too. Grant bit off more than he could chew though: after jawing at Durant, KD went off for 26 points in 15 minutes.
Westbrook jumps about 40 inches in the air to swat Durant’s shot. It’s not clear from this angle, but Durant had an ear-to-ear grin on his face afterward. No such emotion could be seen on Westbrook’s face.
Feel better now?
Westbrook was pushing just a little too hard. He’s been otherworldly so far this season, but his effort last night cost the Thunder the game. And that’s the way it’ll go: Russ will win you games, and he’ll lose you some. It remains to be seen what the balance will be between wins and losses. He did score 20, but he only shot 4-15 and had six turnovers. Russ also added 10 assists and six rebounds.
He certainly had a rough time at it, but most stars would when being double- and even triple-teamed every time down the floor.
Russ has played coy about the Durant soap opera, but he showed up in a neon orange photographer’s pinny, an obvious jab at Durant’s favorite hobby. When asked about the friendly words between Kanter and Durant, Russ had some words for the Dubs:
“The Warriors were doing a lot of trash talking,” he said. “Apparently, I guess they talk a lot of trash now. We’ll see how that goes. But we’ll get ready for the next game, man. It’s one game, one loss for us. We’ll move on, get ready for the next one.”
The next one, by the way, is on January 18th in Oakland.
Steven Adams had a spectacular start in the first quarter against the Warriors, but he tailed off in the final three as Donovan tinkered with his rotations. All told, Adams ended with just 11 points and four rebounds in only 24 minutes. Part of that is playing the second game of a west coast back-to-back game–Oladipo led OKC in minutes played at just 30–and it’s partially due to the blowout nature of the game. Expect Adams to get much more impactful playing time in the next OKC-GSW tilt. Remember, he was the Warriors’ kryptonite last year in the playoffs, and Bogut’s absence has severely damaged Golden State’s interior defense and rebounding.
Simply put: Adams needs to be out there against the Warriors. In the limited time in which he got to match up against Zaza Pachulia, Adams ate his lunch. Watch as Adams puts Pachulia through the spin cycle:
Victor Oladipo led the Thunder in minutes played (30) and points scored (21). He really was the sole bright spot in a rough night for the Thunder. He didn’t tally any assists on the night, though. The Thunder depend on him to be the secondary ball-handler and playmaker behind Russ, and he’s been shaky in that role so far. Oladipo was also -25 on the night, but that was simply a function of how the game went. In fact, OKC only had two plus players on the night: Steven Adams (+7) and Kyle Singler (+3).
The Thunder fall to 4-1 on the season, while the Warriors improve to 4-1. Next up for OKC are the young Minnesota Timberwolves. That game tips off at Chesapeake Energy Arena at 5 P.M. on Saturday.