In the last three games, Kevin Durant has scored 115 points, drawn 32 fouls and committed three charges.
Not only is he carrying the Thunder’s offense, he’s taking a beating to do it.
That probably won’t change in Game 6 with Russell Westbrook out for the rest of the playoffs.
Reggie Jackson showed signs of helping, scoring 20 points in Game 5, but a majority of those came in the fourth quarter while Durant didn’t score a single point. Can they mesh together?
Kevin Martin shot 1-for-10 in Game 5, and he made a third or fewer of his shots in three of the series’ other four games. Serge Ibaka has been up and down offensively, and at this point, that might just be the expectation.
At best, Jackson, Martin or Ibaka emerges as a No. 3-quality scorer next to Durant. Durant will just have to fill the No. 1 and No. 2 roles himself.
It’s a huge burden, and it might be weighing on Durant, considering how he disappeared in the fourth quarter of Game 6. But Durant is still the second-best player in the NBA, and he can lift his team past the Rockets, whose own star, James Harden, will have to do more without Carlos Delfino.
At some point, Durant will wear down from this strategy, probably in round two. But if it happens sooner, the Thunder might not make it even that far.
DeMarcus Cousins says Mavericks’ rumored interest flatters him, but he loves Kings
The Mavericks’ long-rumored interest in DeMarcus Cousins took its most direct public turn before the season, when Dallas signed Cousins’ brother, Jaleel Cousins. Jaleel is now on the Mavericks’ D-League affiliate, and I bet he will remain there as DeMarcus approaches 2018 free agency.
So, DeMarcus Cousins, what do you think about the Mavericks’ long-rumored interest in acquiring you?
“It’s flattering,” Cousins told me, with a laugh, after the Kings’ Wednesday shootaround at AAC. Then, turning serious, he added of the Mavericks, “I respect them.”
“But,” I said, “I’ve also heard that you like it in Sacramento.”
“No,” Cousins corrected, “I love Sacramento.”
Cousins is getting good at this, toeing the line between appreciating another team’s interest and expressing his satisfaction with the Kings.
And give Cousins credit. He keeps producing at a star level for a team that hasn’t provided him with the proper support. Sacramento again appears headed toward the lottery, even as Cousins averages 29-10.
Questions remain, though: How much of Cousins’ attitude is him trying to make the best of an inescapable situation, and will expanded options in the summer of 2018 test his loyalty?
LeBron James dunks, struts past camerapeople and toward crowd, spooks fan (video)
NEW YORK (AP) — Derrick Rose is missing the New York Knicks’ game against Cleveland because of lower back pain.
Rose left the Knicks’ victory over Miami on Tuesday in the third quarter with back spasms. Coach Jeff Hornacek says Rose still felt sore on Wednesday when he came in and met with team doctors, so they sent him for an MRI exam to make sure there was no structural damage.
Rose is averaging 16.7 points and this is the first game he’s missed this season.