Facing nemesis Portland on Tuesday, Durant needed that attitude
down the stretch to lead the Thunder to a 105-97 victory over the
Trail Blazers at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Durant scored 46 points on 17-for-25 shooting, including hitting six
of his seven 3-point attempts. He scored at least 30 points for the
eighth consecutive game.
"He is the best player in the world right now," Portland forward
Nicolas Batum said of Durant. "What can you say about him? He is the
MVP. He is the MVP. I have been six years in the league, and I've
never seen something like that."
Enduring terrible free-throw shooting in the fourth quarter, the
Thunder trailed 95-92 with three minutes left in the game. Durant
then hit a 3-pointer from top of the key. As he headed downcourt, he
was yelling at the Blazers bench and thumping his chest.
Durant received a technical foul minutes before, and it may have
been the kick-start he needed.
"It was a physical basketball game," Thunder coach Scott Brooks
said. "Neither team was getting to the free-throw line or getting
fouls called. Kevin is an aggressive player. I think that got our
crowd fired up."
After the Thunder forced the Blazers into a turnover, guard Reggie
Jackson hit a teardrop in the lane to put Oklahoma City up by two.
Following another empty Portland possession, center Kendrick Perkins
hit a baseline jumper to give Thunder 99-95 advantage.
Durant then shut the game down, draining back-to-back 3-pointers in
Batum's face to put the contest away. He finished with 14
"I told the team after Perk hit that shot that I saw something at
the top of the key," said Durant, who also contributed five rebounds
and four assists. "Batum is a long defender, but he was giving me
some space. I just needed a little bit of space to get my shot off.
I felt good from the 3-point line all game."
Jackson posted 15 points and seven rebounds, while guard Derek
Fisher and forward Serge Ibaka each scored 10 points for Oklahoma
Forward LaMarcus Aldridge paced Portland with 29 points and 16
rebounds. Guard Wesley Matthews added 21 points on 7-for-15
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The Blazers finished their four-game road trip with a 2-2
"Definitely not happy about it," Aldridge said. "We put
ourselves in position to at least win this one tonight. We
didn't close it out."
With the win, the Thunder (32-10) took the lead in the Northwest
Division from the Blazers (31-11).
Despite 15 first-quarter points from Durant, the Blazers held a
27-21 advantage heading into the second.
Ibaka and Jackson started to knock down shots in the second
quarter to close the gap. Guard Thabo Sefolosha hit a jumper
with 8.3 seconds left to give Oklahoma City its first lead of
However, Portland guard Damian Lillard took it right back when
he drove the court and made a layup to close out the first half
with the Blazers leading 52-51.
Portland maintained the lead and control of the contest until
Durant decided it was time to take over. The Blazers had no
answers at that point.
"I am just having fun out there," Durant said. "I am blessed to
play this game, so every moment I am on this court, it's fun for
me, no matter how the game is going. You go to the bench and see
your teammates are actually happy for you, all I could do is
smile cause I know they are genuinely happy for me."
NOTES: Thunder F Kevin Durant was selected the NBA Western
Conference Player of the Week for Jan. 13-19. He led the Thunder
to a 3-1 record while averaging a league-best 39.3 points in
addition to 6.5 assists and 4.8 rebounds. It was the third time
this year Durant won the award and the 15th since the 2009-10
season, the most in the conference over that span. ... Portland
coach Terry Stotts likes what he has seen from G C.J. McCollum
through the rookie's first six games. "He is doing well," Stotts
said. ... Starting with Tuesday's contest, Oklahoma City will
play four games in five days, but coach Scott Brooks doesn't
plan to alter his rotation. "We've always just focused on the
game and then worry about the next night," Brooks said. "We have
a pretty deep team."
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