Kevin Durant was smoking, and then all of a sudden, he wasn’t. In the first nine minutes and change of the fourth quarter, the man who scored 52 points and had nine rebounds in Oklahoma City’s 117-114 OT win over Dallas was about as hot as the Cavs in cryotherapy, missing six straight field goal attempts, turning the ball over and committing an offensive foul. He made only two field goals in the fourth quarter, but got eight free throws (part of his perfect 21-of-21 from the line) and that showed why he is not just an all-time great scorer, but why this Thunder team is one to remember, too. They never strayed from their plan of feeding Durant because he’d carried them so far to begin with, and gave him the leash to create. The bet paid off with his aggressiveness and foul-drawing genius in a game where the Thunder only shot 41 percent. Even when O.J. Mayo tied the game in regulation with his triple with less than 10 seconds to go and Mike James put the Mavs up with less than a minute left in OT, the Thunder went to their tried-and-true star system like it was a pressure-free walkthrough, a move that paid off with KD’s Dirk-like stepback J to break a tie and win the game with 16 seconds to go. … Jrue Holiday is the absolute truth this season. His 33 points and 14 assists, both career highs, helped Philly storm back from 19 down to beat Ed Davis (18 points, 10 boards, six assists) and the Raptors, 108-101. For Holiday, the fun was just beginning by getting to overtime with his double-clutch runner over Amir Johnson, though, because he hit the Raptors with 12 straight points — all of the Sixers’ points in that period — to literally single-handedly take down Toronto. Thaddeus Young‘s 27 and 14 will be overlooked because of Holiday but he balled too, including a steal and slam to get within two with two minutes left in the fourth. … It’s not often a team goes on the road and gets 17 more free throw attempts than their host, but Charlotte won’t complain. The Bobcats beat the Magic, 106-100, to snap a five-game skid thanks to Kemba Walker‘s 25 points. Conversely, the Magic have now lost six straight to teams with losing records, which is never a trend you want to see. … In other games Brooklyn beat Atlanta, 94-89, with Reggie Evans getting 20 rebounds against the Hawks who were missing Al Horford. The Hawks are unraveling before our eyes by losing seven of their last 10. … Sacramento looked anemic in its 85-69 loss to Memphis, unable to translate its sets into points. DeMarcus Cousins‘s 22 points (he added 12 boards) were just four less than the rest of the Kings’ starting five combined. It’s bad when the Kings made the Grizzlies’ eight-man rotation look untouchable most the game after Z-Bo‘s back held him out. … Hit the jump to read about a crazy ending to Bulls-Celtics in Boston. …
Say what you want about Durant’s 52 points, and we already said our praise, but one of the biggest moments of the night was Marco Belinelli‘s three to beat Boston. It was a wholly unexpected ending in a game won by a team few would have given a chance with 30 seconds left in the game. It’s apples and oranges a little but KD’s game could have been predicted. A historically incredible offensive player against a middling defense with little to play for? He could go off. The Bulls pulled out something much more surprising and without Luol Deng, who injured his right hamstring. Belinelli hit a fading turnaround 14-footer in overtime to sink the Celtics 100-99, a miraculous play off an eyesore of a set made possible when Kirk Hinrich and Jimmy Butler (13 points, six straight in OT) double-teamed Paul Pierce to force a jump ball that allowed Hinrich to calmly sink a jumper to tie it and get to OT. And watch out, Carlos Boozer just had his 11th straight double-double (19 points, 20 boards). Rajon Rondo had 30 points. … The Nuggets haven’t played exceptional basketball recently, and the Wizards have been awful all season, so we didn’t expect much from the Mile High matchup, a 112-108 Wiz win. Out of nowhere — just like John Wall‘s game-saving block on Ty Lawson — it was hard to turn away from on League Pass. Lawson had 27 of his 29 points in the second half, but Wall (14 points, 12 dimes in 26 minutes) showed how much he means to this team in about three short strides on that block when he helped off Andre Miller to run all the way across the screen and help Chris Singleton, who was caught on a switched screen. Bradley Beal was sensational with 23 points. By the way, he’s shooting 61 percent from three this month … Paul George and David West seem to be fighting each other for All-Star votes, and Friday’s 105-95 win over Houston showed why. George had 31, West had 20 and 11 and together they corralled James Harden into 5-of-19 shooting. … We thought the Bucks’ 24-game losing streak in Phoenix was bad, but we didn’t know that the Warriors hadn’t won in San Antonio for 28 games, or since Tim Duncan (24 points, 10 boards) had yet to leave Wake Forest. The Spurs won, 95-88. … We’re out like Alvin Gentry.
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