Skip to content

Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka make history in Thunder win over Nuggets

Feb 20, 2012, 2:56 AM EDT

Denver Nuggets v Oklahoma City Thunder

Numbers so rarely tell the story in retrospect. Every number based on human performance requires interpretation, it requires understanding. The idea that numbers are meaningless in the context of basketball is asinine, but the idea that in 20 years, some kid will check basketball reference and see the box score for the Thunder’s 124-118 win over the Nuggets, marvel at it, and never really understand its texture is a shame. Because it felt like Kevin Durant scored 100, not 51, that Russell Westbrook was every bit as dominant as Durant, though he wasn’t, and that Serge Ibaka rendered the Nuggets limb from limb when in reality his man defense was questionable as ever, his weakside as brilliant as always.

But us? We’re lucky to have been here to witness it. We witnessed history. Sunday night was the first time in NBA history a team has had a 50-point scorer, a 40-point scorer, and a triple double, all by three different players. It was historic, it was legendary, it was all completely necessary to get past the Nuggets.

- Kevin Durant scored 51 points on 28 shots, includig 5 of 6 from the arc and 9-10 from the stripe. Durant was at once aggressive in his assault on the rim and opportunistic, slipping in crevices to find open looks from mid and long-range. It is a career high for Durant and his highest since scoring 47 on 28 shots lat year against Minnesota. Down 2 at the end of regulation, Durant slipped off a screen, caught the inbounds and burst past Chris Anderson to the rim for a dunk to tie. In overtime, a Serge Ibaka offensive rebound was kicked out to Durant who calmly slipped back from transition to find the perimeter line. That’s the key with Durant. He worked out of such a wide variety of situations, he flowed seemlessly through the offense on his way to those 51. It is a pinnacle game in Durant’s career.

- Russell Westbrook dropped 40 points in a game, and yet was completely overshadowed. Westbrook had nine asssists, which will be completely overlooked and just two turnovers. but the perception will remain that Westbrook shoots too much. Do you know how few 40-point scorers there on this league? Westbroook repeatedly rose and daggered the Nuggets late. His ballhawking ways put constant pressure on the Nuggets and forced turnovers. Kevin Durant took 28 shots and Westbrook still found his way to assist or score on 58 points. The fact he is so underrated is criminal.

- Serge Ibaka finished with the first triple-double using blocks in franchise history, OKC or Seattle. He finished with 14 points, 15 rebounds, and 11 blocks. He ate up the Denver attacks at the rim, blocking and swatting and rejecting. It was his clutch offensive rebound and kickout to Kevin Durant in overtime that really cemented the game for OKC.

There is plenty to be concerned about beneath the surface for OKC. James Harden had a bad night. Kendrick Perkins does not seem like the defensive powerhouse he was brought in to be. The Thunder needed their two best players to score 91 points just to win a game, at home, against a depleted team, in overtime. But for a night, three players put the team on their shoulders and produced at a Herculean level. It was the stuff of legend.

Just another night in the NBA.

Latest Posts
  1. Chris Bosh makes it official, signs five-year, $118 million deal with Miami

    Jul 30, 2014, 10:30 PM EDT

    San Antonio Spurs v Miami Heat - Game 6 Getty Images

    “His unique skill set makes him one of the best players in the game today.” —Pat Riley on Chris Bosh, who still is overpaid.

  2. Pat Riley says he didn’t think LeBron was leaving, Heat can turn around quickly

    Jul 30, 2014, 8:59 PM EDT

    Pat Riley Pat Riley

    Pat Riley got beat in free agency, and he doesn’t take losing well.

  3. Magic Johnson: Jerry Buss wanted Byron Scott to coach the Lakers

    Jul 30, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers Introduce Byron Scott Getty Images

    Scott, not Mike Brown, would have followed Phil Jackson

  4. Coach K on Rose: “Derrick’s played great, not good, and hasn’t held anything back”

    Jul 30, 2014, 6:59 PM EDT

    “He’s playing out of his mind. He’s being Derrick Rose.” —Anthony Davis on Rose.

  5. Report: Longtime referee Dick Bavetta retiring

    Jul 30, 2014, 6:05 PM EDT

    Dick Bavetta Dick Bavetta

    NBA reportedly wanted Bavetta to retire four years ago

  6. Report: Lakers work out Michael Beasley

    Jul 30, 2014, 5:17 PM EDT

    Milwaukee Bucks v Miami Heat Getty Images

    The elicits a shrug of the shoulders. Not much else.

  7. Kevin Durant anoints Anthony Davis MVP-in-waiting

    Jul 30, 2014, 4:29 PM EDT

    Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant

    Thunder star texted Davis after winning the award last season: ‘You on your way to get it’

  8. Notes from Team USA Camp in Las Vegas: Nobody is a fan of the FIBA balls

    Jul 30, 2014, 2:59 PM EDT

    Kevin Durant, Chandler Parsons AP

    “Guys that don’t have a reputation for playing hard defense are picking up full court.” —Damian Lillard on the level of play at Team USA training camp.

  9. Mavericks may consider signing Rashard Lewis after his knee surgery

    Jul 30, 2014, 2:19 PM EDT

    Rashard Lewis Rashard Lewis

    Dallas originally signed Lewis, but voided his contract once it was discovered he would require knee surgery.

  10. Knicks legend Earl Monroe sees New York finishing top four in the East ‘easily’

    Jul 30, 2014, 1:34 PM EDT

    Earl Monroe Earl Monroe

    Cleveland, Chicago, Indiana, Miami, Toronto and Washington all simply shake their heads.

  11. Report: Metta World Peace nearing deal to play in China next season

    Jul 30, 2014, 12:47 PM EDT

    New York Knicks vs Los Angeles Clippers Getty Images

    World Peace hasn’t drawn legitimate interest from NBA teams, so he’s considering playing overseas.

  12. Report: Anthony Bennett pulled from pro-am by agent, possibly due to his inclusion in Kevin Love trade talks

    Jul 30, 2014, 11:14 AM EDT

    Anthony Bennett Anthony Bennett

    Just like Love, Bennett is not going to be playing in any games this summer until a deal is done.

  13. Report: Sixers fighting against immediate changes to NBA Draft Lottery system

    Jul 30, 2014, 10:32 AM EDT

    Sam Hinkie, Nerlens Noel AP

    Sixers put a multi-year plan together based on current rules, which would be adversely affected with a quick change to the system.

  14. Team USA going small ball, but how many bigs do they keep on the bench?

    Jul 30, 2014, 8:40 AM EDT

    Mike Krzyzewski Mike Krzyzewski

    “Everyone talks about match-ups (with big teams such as Spain), people have to match-up against us, too.” — USA Basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski

  15. Report: LeBron James more popular than he ever was with the Heat

    Jul 30, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    LeBron still not as popular as prior to The Decision, though. It’s only a matter of time until he is.

Featured video

Why can't Lakers have a player-coach?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. T. Warren (4996)
  2. L. James (4272)
  3. K. Love (3680)
  4. D. Rose (3448)
  5. C. Anthony (2751)
  1. K. Bryant (2616)
  2. R. Allen (2531)
  3. J. Nelson (2413)
  4. B. Griffin (2081)
  5. C. Boozer (1959)