On the surface, the Brooklyn Nets were the first team in the last 12 games to hold the estimable Kevin Durant under 30 points. But anyone that writes that lede obviously missed the first half of OKC’s visit to Barclays on Friday night.
Slim Reaper Durantula KD was a bonkers 8-for-9 from the field for 22 points in the first half as the Thunder took a 63-35 lead. It wasn’t like Durant was getting easy layups, either, but we hope no one else tries to do what he does. They can’t.
Here’s KD’s shot chart in under 20 minutes of action. You read that right, he only played 19:37 of last night’s game.
But it wasn’t so much the efficiency of Durant that had us agog; it was the way he was scoring, like a J.R. Smith wet dream. Shaun Livingston took on the challenge of defending Durant, but even with solid defensive positioning and a 6-7 frame that possesses a 6-11 wingspan, Shaun was totally at the mercy of Durant.
KD wasn’t getting easy buckets in transition, little bank shots inside of five feet, or open looks on the perimeter, either. He was basically playing horse with a good defender out there, except the Larry and Michael variety. After Durant drained a three on OKC’s first possession, just look at how impossibly challenging his next two three-pointers of the half might be for mere mortals:
He’s off-balance, he’s got a hand in his face, and the ball just spikes the nylon anyway.
Anyone else, with the possible exception of Stephen Curry (nod to KD for that one), and you’re screaming at your TV to stop chucking it up.
But that’s not applicable to Durant. He’s not a role model for basketball players look to pick up tricks of the trade, he’s the exception to the rule. You can’t guard him with a quicker guard, even a long one like Livingston, and you can’t put an even bigger forward on him because his handle and vision have improved so much. Even with a bigger, stronger player, he can still shoot over them, like he did against LeBron.
Nobody should do this, but look at the level of difficulty on these other buckets by Durant in that scorching first half, and the various ways he can score. He knocks down mid-range jumpers, that first three and a spinning layup against an overmatched Livingston on the block:
You can’t guard him, you can’t pinpoint a weakness because right now he doesn’t have one. The Thunder have won 11 straight games without Russell Westbrook, and Kevin Durant is probably the only reason why. Just don’t try to duplicate him.
What do you think.
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