Sunday, June 3rd, 2012 at 11:44 am  |  32 responses

Post Up: Goin’ Streaking

Kevin Durant’s hot fourth quarter helps OKC tie series at two.

Thunder 109, Spurs 103 (Series tied 2-2)

The Spurs are back off to Bexar County now. They’ll be rifling through their yearbooks trying to remember what once was. They got turned down by the hot girl at the bar in the most gut-wrenching way last night, losing to the Thunder 109-103.

San Antonio was about to work up the nerve to go say something warm and cool, then Kevin Durant showed up and just bought the whole bar. The girl came with it.

He scored 15 of the Thunder’s last 20. Thirteen of them were in a row. None of them were really stoppable by another person playing basketball. San Antonio was knocking on the door throughout the entire run, but it felt unserious. The League’s leading scorer just decided he wasn’t going to lose last night.

Now San Antonio has to figure out what worked last weekend—and the last 10 years—and then they’ve got to figure out how they got so ugly overnight.

Truth is, Gregg Popovich and Co. had to have expected that Durant fireball at some point. It’s probably crocheted onto a pillow somewhere in Matt Bonner’s locker. “Kevin Durant is going to go off at some point. We will play the next game like it never happened.”

But that’s not the problem. The problem is that the Spurs got eviscerated all night by the Oklahoma City big men. Serge Ibaka looked like David Robinson out there at the elbow and in the corner. He had the most points in a Playoff game by anybody who didn’t miss a shot. Eleven-for-eleven, this guy.

In fact, here’s Kendrick Perkins, Nick Collison and Serge Ibaka’s combined line for the first half: 33 points on 15-of-18 shooting. It was almost entirely putbacks, 15-footers, and smart cuts off of a quicker player’s penetration. All of it was savvy and tough.

Perkins, Collison and Ibaka carried that offense. If that last sentence is on a pillow anywhere, I’ll eat it.

Again, they hung around. Tim Duncan had a quiet, physical 21. Kawhi Leonard kept them in it with corner threes toward the end. That deathly Thunder backcourt was in a coma, too. Parker, Ginobili, Gary Neal and Danny Green made Westbrook force shots and threw Harden off his rhythm. The OKC backcourt (Westbrook, Sefolosha, Harden and Fisher) were a combined 9-of-33.

The Thunder shot 57 percent anyway.

Now the Spurs are off to lift some weights, remember what’s good about themselves, maybe buy a sexy new car called “2-3 zone” or “DeJuan Blair.” They’re gonna need an American Beauty moment if they want to make the kids look like hell again, like what happened at the AT&T Center in Games 1 and 2, when athleticism didn’t seem to matter and the Spurs were just too smart.

But these Thunder kids aren’t too dumb, themselves. They proved that last night.

And they sure are a hell of a lot prettier. —Ben Collins

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  • http://www.google.be/imgres?q=watch+out+we+got+a+badass&um=1&hl=nl&sa=N&rlz=1C1AFAB_enBE454BE454&biw=1600&bih=799&tbm=isch&tbnid=qB4CTXEDbyW1dM:&imgrefurl=http://kn Max

    Can we give the title of best closer to KD allready?
    Kobe just isn’t that dude.

  • http://itsahardwoodlife.blogspot.com omphalos

    I’m disappointed there was no mention of how effective Durant was making plays in the first 3 quarters. He was picking moments to score, but for much of the game he was creating the open looks that led to the amazing efficiency of Ibaka, Perkins and Collison. Durant showed he is more than capable of playing the point-forward role, but remembered in the 4th that his role was stone-cold killer. Durant vs Lebron in the Finals would be huge!

  • http://slamonline.com Datkid

    Man… KD is a taller T-mac w/ slightly worse passing skills, a commitment to playing defense, and a excellent team around him. When it’s all said and done I think people really might be forever debating Larry Bird, Lebron James and Kevin Durant as the GOAT small forwards. I’m young and tripping but that’s just my opinion… man….

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    Datkid, KD’s passing ability liabilities and lack of defensive skill will forever keep him out of the SF GOAT conversation. I watch the dude play and while he is a great scorer, keep in mind he’s averaging a shade over 26 ppg in the playoffs. That’s not legendary, especially when that’s his primary weapon.
    On another note, anyone notice the crazy amount of moving screens OKC got away with? There was a reason that every time Serge or KD rolled to the basket they were wide open.

  • MookieBlaylock

    Man I love the Playoffs. We get spoiled in the conference finals with an awesome game every night!
    I’ll be happy for different reasons no matter what team wins it all,
    but as a neutral fan KD vs LBJ would be toooo sick.

  • Heals

    Remember LBJ scoring 25 straight to beat Det and secure a spot in the Finals, now his every late-game decision is dissected to no end. I love KD, but it’s funny how things can change…

  • elmaar

    cosign omphalos and datkid
    the dude has been coming back better every year – he’s improved his previously shaky ball handling,(not to a level of lebron’s but I’d say it’s quite good right now especially for a 6″10 person)
    decision making, passing, rebounding, shooting, picking his spots…I can go on and on and he has been slowly but surely become stronger.
    And the whole team is just built so perfectly, Sam Presti must be in the conversation for the executive of the year each year
    Man, next year if they sign Harden and Ibaka, and I bet they will, I feel they are set for something special

  • Heals

    We have the next 5 years for KD v LBJ, can I get 1 TD v KG before they wrap it up? Truth be told what scenario out of the 4 possible isn’t interesting? Even OKC v Bos has the Perkins trade and how the C’s tanked for a chance at Durant, only to go the KG and RayRay route. Then SAS v Mia has LBJ’s revenge for SAS, SAS’s legacy, etc…

  • permaculture james

    This series has me guessing: first it was ’7 games’, then ‘sweep’, and now, I don’t know. But OKC seems to be learning in front of our eyes and how to punch through the ceiling. Sweeeet.

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    Sigh, KD’s defense gets continuously overlooked as a limiting factor…and I hate to break it to Thunder fans, but with two max contracts already on the payroll, how do you expect this team to stay together? Harden is gonna demand close to a max deal and some team will pay crazy money for Serge (like Deandre Jordan) which the Thunder would have to match. Short of some sort of accounting miracle, OKC can’t keep a Big 4.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    OKC has to make a decision between Ibaka and Harden, they can’t keep both. I think they keep Harden because his upside is a little bit higher but if I were the GM, I would keep Ibaka because shotblockers in today’s NBA are few and far between.

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    Cosign JT. They’re both RFA right? Someone (Toronto? Minny?) will offer Harden huge money, up near $10-12 mil per. I can also see a team like Sacto offering Serge $8-9 mil per. Thunder can’t keep both.

  • http://hoopspeak.com/2012/05/enough-about-lebron-and-his-fouls/ nbk

    Harden is going to get a Max deal. Or as close to it as possible, no less than $12M a season.

  • elmaar

    so you’re saying OKC can’t have a 70mil payroll?

  • Bola

    I think the love OKC fans show to serge and Harden might convince them to stay at OKC. I mean if OKC wins spurs and gets to the NBA FINALS. Don’t you think IBAKA and Harden would be licking their lips to dominate the west with Durant and Westbrook for years to come. Cuz frankly OKC is gonna dominate the NBA for the next 7-9 years. I mean Money is good but hey when you at least getting paid with some loving that’s as good as getting fully paid.

  • elmaar

    Presti is gonna get it done, keep Harden and Ibaka or trade one of them for a very very high pick, book it

  • http://hoopspeak.com/2012/05/enough-about-lebron-and-his-fouls/ nbk

    OKC can legally keep all their guys. But it’ll cost way more than $70M to keep them. And the luxury tax is going to keep getting bigger for the next 2 or 3 years, idk exactly.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Toronto BETTER be the team that offers Harden max money.

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    Haven’t we learned from the Heat that 3 max level players aren’t a guaranteed winning formula? Especially since Bron +Wade+Bosh>>>Durant+Westbrook+Harden.

  • http://slamonline.com Datkid

    can they take less money and stay together? also caboose you gotta remember Durant is only 22… he’s only getting better. He has great defensive potential although I don’t ever think he’ll be a LBJ caliber defender. he keeps this improvement up tho. also cosign heals! I’m a big KD fan, but on twitter yesterday I said cleveland lebron > current Kevin Durant and people looked at me like I was crazy. they must’ve forgot about how AWESOME lebron can be when he’s got his back against the wall and nobody to help him.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Slick Ric

    westbrook shoots less, they win. simple

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    He’s 23, and is the same defender he was when he entered the league. Don’t get me wrong, I applaud the strides he’s made on the offensive end, but he’ll never be close to the defender LeBron is now, nor the ball handler he was 5 years ago.

  • Heals

    I think it’s 2 years before the penalty for going over the tax doubles (or is it triples, I forgot?). Can’t be giving tickets away for free (Weezy) if they wanna have any chance…

  • Heals

    Harden would have me up late at late for sure on that one. His game is awesome, BUT is he a max guy, I still dunno. It’s a tough decision for any franchise, let alone one in a market like OKC, let alone when you already got 2 guys maxed. At gunpoint, $12 mil, I let him walk, and hope I can draft a MarshonBrooks (I know not nearly the same thing) type to mitigate the loss. I hear ya Bola, but ya can never underestimate the allure of that extra $5mil (possibly 25 total over the course of a contract), living in a city that’s “live,” and getting an opportunity to start as one of the top 3 guys on a team…

  • Bola

    @ Heals you right, Money is the evil of all things so we can’t be 2 sure on what will happen to this OKC team. Guess we just have to sit and watch.

  • http://www.yahoo.com The Fury

    It’s pretty strange right now that nobody’s saying “Harden to the Knicks/Lakers/Bulls”…lol

  • SirGrey

    There will be no moves unless they aren’t winning chips or don’t win a chip. I could see people taking pay cuts before I see Harden/Ibaka leave, or maybe I’m being delusional. I feel like OKC’s wins make people question the Spurs as if the Thunder didn’t lose to the champs of last year. They were arguably the 2nd, 3rd best team in the league in people’s eyes and now with 1 more year on the belt. Harden 4 MVP though.

  • Drig

    Y’know…….Indy needs a shooter/scorer from the perimeter. I could see them going after EGordon/Harden hard this off-season. Toronto most easily strikes me next but I trust them less than I trust the Hawks…….so no…..only Indy I guess. If OKC are intelligent, they’ll stick to Ibaka and let Harden walk with no hard feelings. OKC needs the interior presence.

  • Mike From Spain

    I think that OKC with Ibaka has a more balanced roster. They have to let Perkins walk, it’d be nice to keep Harden but if Sefolosha keeps getting better at scoring, and you have a good scoring backcourt already… well, I guess it depends on what their replacements are and how much do other teams offer. They sure can’t keep both Harden and Ibaka. I am a Minny fan, we’d have room in the roster and be within the salary cap if we take Harden’s contract. He’d be a perfect fit, I think that with Rubio, Harden, Jae Crowder, Love and Pekovic, that team could easily make it to at least the second round. Or if Minny works something to get Iggy to play the 3, but Iggy and Harden together… I don’t know if that works salary-wise.

  • Mike From Spain

    Harden could go to the Lakers but that’d be the post-Kobe era. If it were for pure basketball reasons, I’d see a case to amnesty Kobe and put Harden there, and bam, you have a decent post-Kobe era team. But people pay to see the black mamba try and get that ever ellusive 6th ring. Dallas has also some cap room (allegedly to make a move on Deron Williams), Harden could be a nice fit there if DWill does not sign with Dallas. And my ignorance of other team situations is deeper still, so I’ll say nothing more :)

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Caboose, Durant is a far far far better defender than he was when he entered the league. And he has actually been above average for 2 years now.

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    ^Co-Sign. Durant was not a good defender when he entered the L. He is above average now and is actually real good, as we have seen, at getting in the passing lanes and disrupting offenses with his length towards the ends of games.