Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant is not one of them. On
a night he described as emotional, the MVP candidate scored 41
points and hit the game-winning shot in a 111-109 comeback victory
over the Atlanta Hawks Monday at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
"I'm just trying to inspire the team by my play," Durant said. "Just
playing hard. Being emotional, hopefully it helps. Sometimes it may
not. I got to take that risk. Take that chance. That's how I am on
the court. I'm an emotional player. I know we play a lot of games. A
lot of people say January don't mean anything. But when you are
playing this game with your heart and passion like we do, sometimes
you have to sit back and just enjoy it."
With 2:34 left on the clock, Durant went to the foul line and hit
one of two to close Atlanta's (23-21) lead down to 107-105. Hawks
forward Paul Millsap missed a jumper and Durant made him pay with a
contested layup to tie the game.
Millsap tried to post up guard Reggie Jackson but Durant came from
behind with the blocked shot.
After another loose-ball scramble, the Hawks got a wide-open 3-point
attempt that was off. But Millsap got the rebound. However, a few
seconds later, Millsap was called for traveling and Oklahoma City
(36-10) got the ball back with 34 seconds on the clock.
Coming out of a timeout, guard Derek Fisher got the ball to Durant.
With Atlanta forward DeMarre Carroll guarding him, Durant hit a
step-back jumper to put the Thunder up 109-107 with 25 seconds left.
Millsap answered right back when he drove into the lane and flipped
a left-handed shot over guard Thabo Sefolosha. With 22 seconds left,
the Thunder took over. Durant got the ball with seven seconds
remaining at the top of the key and quickly recognized the "San
Antonio umbrella defense" as the Hawks sent a double-team at him. He
drove the other way and knocked down a 15-foot jumper with 1.5
"I was going to pass it, then I saw I was in my spot and I just had
to pull up," Durant said.
Atlanta was unable to get a shot off in the final seconds. Along
with Durant's 41 points (15-for-25), he collected five assists and
three blocked shots. He also extended his scoring streak to 11 games
with at least 30 points.
Jackson added 18 points and five assists. Forward Serge Ibaka had
six blocked shots and nine points.
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The Hawks had seven players score in double figures. Millsap led
with 23 points on 9-for-19 shooting. Guard Shelvin Mack and Carroll
each posted 15 points. Forward Mike Scott came off the bench to
score 16 points.
"Losing is very hard in this league and our guys are hurting,"
Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said. "You have to give Oklahoma City
a lot of credit. It was a heck of a fourth quarter and a heck of a
basketball game. They made a couple of more plays than we did."
The Hawks bullied the Thunder on the offensive backboards. Even
though they only had a 15-10 advantage, they led in 31-15 in
But that wasn't enough to offset Durant's clutch fourth quarter,
which has become the norm for the league's leading scorer.
"It was an emotional game," Durant said. "I was up and down the
whole game. My emotions were everywhere. So I just had to try and
keep it together at the end of the game and come through for my
team. By the grace of God, I was able to hit a few shots."
NOTES: For the second week in a row and the fourth time this season,
Oklahoma City F Kevin Durant was named the NBA's Western Conference
Player of the Week after averaging 38.0 points, 8.7 rebounds and 6.3
assists for games played Jan. 20 through Jan. 26. Durant was joined
on the court by the Eastern Conference Player of the Week, Atlanta F
Paul Millsap. He led the Hawks to a 3-1 record while posting 21.3
points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.5 steals. "I think that's a
huge compliment to him," Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said.
"Obviously he's been great for us all year. To get that recognition
is something that is good for him and good for our group." ...
Atlanta G Kyle Korver hit a 3-pointer to start the game. It extended
his streak to 113 consecutive games with a 3-pointer. ... Oklahoma
City continued its tradition of honoring the military with the sixth
annual Military Appreciation Night Monday. More than 1,000 military
personnel were in attendance for the game against Atlanta. "I think
it's great," Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. "It's very cool
to see. Our season ticket holders are very generous to give up a lot
of their tickets for tonight. It's an honor for us to have them
here. I wouldn't be surprised one day in the future if all 19,000 of
our season ticket holders give it up for a game."
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