Kevin Durant scored 52 points, a new career-high in leading the Thunder to a 117-114 overtime win in Dallas against the Mavericks.
None of his shots were as ridiculous or as important as the one you see in the video clip above.
With under 27 seconds remaining in overtime and the game tied at 114, Russell Westbrook has possession at the top of the three-point arc. He passes to Durant just above the elbow, who turns and faces Shawn Marion about 20 feet from the basket.
With just three dribbles, Durant gets briefly past Marion into the lane, before Marion recovers in time to defend the shot attempt closely. Durant sinks the tough fadeaway floater (if there is such a thing) to give him the final two points of his 52 on the night, and the Thunder escaped with their league-leading 32nd win of the season.
The crazy thing about the career-high performance from Durant was that it wasn’t his best overall offensive game by a longshot. He finished just 13-31 from the field, and missed plenty of shots that are regular makes for the man who has won three consecutive scoring titles. 21 of his points came at the free throw line, where he didn’t miss once in 21 attempts.
Westbrook chipped in with 31 points on 12-26 shooting, giving the pair 83 of their team’s 117 points.
Much like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in Miami, when both players have it going like this at the same time, it’s virtually impossible to shut their team down.
D’Antoni says Rockets’ Patrick Beverley to miss about 20 games
Patrick Beverley is going to have a key role with the Rockets — he is their best defending guard. And it’s not close. He can help space the floor as a three-point shooter, he can work off the ball on offense and serve as a backup playmaker, but mostly what he brings is fearless, physical defense.
Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said he expects guard Pat Beverley to miss at least 20 games with a left knee injury. His absence “complicates” some roster spots.
The Rockets are going to have one of the best offenses in the NBA but whether they finish fourth or seventh or out of the playoffs completely in the West will come down to a combination of health and how well they defend. This is a setback on both counts.
The Chicago Bulls traded Derrick Rose to New York, in hopes that the locker room, “whose team is this?” drama would head East with him. This is Jimmy Butler‘s team, with Dwyane Wade now assisting.
But the drama isn’t gone yet.
On their way out the door, the camps around Rose and Joakim Noah tried to paint Butler as a Diva who was the real problem. When Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times asked Butler about it, he basically laughed off the idea.
“Am I a diva? I don’t call it that,’’ Butler said before Thursday’s 97-81 loss to Atlanta in their final preseason game. “My will to win rubs people the wrong way sometimes. I can blame it on that, but won’t apologize for it. Never will.
“As far as that talk goes, I don’t care. I’m going to keep working and if people don’t like it, people want to say what they want to say, that’s fine. I know, and I think these guys know, where my heart is and how I want to do right by everybody.’’
Rose and Noah thought Butler tried to jump the line to be the leader of the team, which they saw as still their right as the veterans. Butler didn’t care what they thought then, he certainly doesn’t now.
The Spurs are counting on Danny Green to regain his top-flight “3&D” form this season and give them another defender and weapon when they go up against that potential juggernaut out West. And the Clippers, too.
But that comeback is getting off to a slow start, the team announced Friday.
INJURY UPDATE – Danny Green has been diagnosed with a left quad strain and is expected to be out approximately three weeks.
This likely means a little more run for Manu Ginobili and Kevin Martin to start the season, plus some funky lineups from Gregg Popovich.
Green played great defense last season but struggled from three (where 60 percent of his attempts are taken). Green shot 33.2 percent from deep on the season, which is well below his career average of 40.3 percent (and last year’s down numbers were buoyed by a red-hot January, he was much worse the rest of the season).
It’s something for Spurs fans to monitor, they need to get his legs right before his shot can return.
PBT Extra: Who wins MVP, other NBA end-of-season awards?
The NBA’s award season seems more wide open than ever.
Ben Simmons was going to enter the season as the heavy favorite to win Rookie of the Year, but with him out injured the door is flung open to a lot of players. Coach of the Year is always a game of “which coach exceeds expectations.” Even MVP seems more open with Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant — the award winners the past three seasons — teamed up in the Bay Area.
In this latest PBT Extra I throw out my predictions for the awards, but let’s get on with the games next week and see who earns them.