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Kevin Durant has his Thunder one win from the Finals

Jun 5, 2012, 1:26 AM EST

durant-game-5-spurs

In the press conference following the Thunder’s huge Game 5 win over the Spurs in San Antonio, one that now has Oklahoma City just a single home victory away from advancing to the NBA Finals, Kevin Durant was asked a question that seemed silly on the surface. It referenced the fact that teams seemingly needed to politely wait for their time to come, before asking when the Thunder decided they were ready now to take that next step.

Durant handled it with the grace and skill that he displays on a nightly basis, while often making his heroics seem routine.

“We never just thought that we were supposed to wait our turn,” Durant said. “We always wanted to go and take everything.”

It was a fitting response after Durant and his Thunder took Game 5, winning for the third straight time over a now-reeling Spurs team that began this series with a 2-0 lead, and a 20-game win streak that had many wondering if it would ever come to an end this post-season.

The thing about that answer, though, is that Durant has often waited his turn in these playoffs — but not to his team’s detriment. In fact, the results have been outstanding.

Durant once again led the Thunder in scoring on Monday, hitting for 27 points on 10-19 shooting. But he did so after scoring just five first-half points, all of which came in the first quarter, on just 1-6 shooting.

It’s cliche to say that a player takes what the defense gives, and doesn’t force while allowing the game to come to him. But that’s exactly what we get from Durant. It’s rare to see a superstar adhere to both of those principles on a consistent basis, and to do so in such a way where the rest of the team thrives —  while still leaving the door open to take the game over when the time is right — well, it’s a special quality that might belong to Durant alone if we’re talking about the game’s most elite players.

The Spurs held a lead of six points with 5:40 to play in the third quarter. Durant had yet to assert himself, but when he did, just like the majority of the games he’s played in this season, his opponent had no answer.

Durant started getting buckets, in the silky-smooth way that only he can. He hit from distance, mid-range, and at the rim, and even assisted Russell Westbrook on a highlight-reel alley-oop that was part of a 23-5 OKC run that turned the game around for good.

The Spurs didn’t go away, of course, and closed the gap with a late run of their own. And, once Durant got things rolling by doing his thing, James Harden stepped up with 12 huge fourth-quarter points on just four shots, which included four three-pointers and the dagger with the shot clock winding down that effectively sealed it.

As a team, the Thunder may not have had any intention of waiting their turn behind the Mavericks, Lakers, and now Spurs — all of whom have been the only ones to represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals over the past 13 years, and all of whom the Thunder have faced in these playoffs.

Incredibly, all it will take is one more patient performance from Durant at home in Game 6, and the wait for his Thunder will be over.

  1. canehouse - Jun 5, 2012 at 1:32 AM

    Very probable… but Spurs will battle to the last tick of the game clock. Outstanding resolve by the Thunder tonight!

    • connaniii - Jun 6, 2012 at 2:44 PM

      Undoubtably so, but to no avail! take it from a die hard Spurs fan…

  2. bleedgreen4life - Jun 5, 2012 at 1:35 AM

    I am really hoping to see an OKC/Miami Finals this year. Durant vs. LeBron. I’m not counting the Spurs out yet though, they’ve been here plenty of times before.

    • duane888 - Jun 5, 2012 at 2:08 PM

      … and the two are great friends, so they know each other’s game. Would be a really good matchup.

  3. passerby23 - Jun 5, 2012 at 2:38 AM

    Halfway through Game 4, it just seemed like the Thunder had truly figured out how to beat the Spurs. If not for a monster game from Ginobili, Thunder win Game 5 going away. They have totally frustrated Tony Parker, which I did not expect them to do coming into this series. The Spurs, it seems, have to play lights out to beat them. They keep talking about not giving the right effort, Popovich having to yell at his team, and so on, but it’s the Thunder doing it.

  4. digitalpoo - Jun 5, 2012 at 2:50 AM

    Take note Kurt….This is how you write an article.

  5. wherezwaldo - Jun 5, 2012 at 6:30 AM

    If the Thunder make it to the Finals. Might as well hand em the hardware off the bat.

    • bozosforall - Jun 5, 2012 at 10:27 AM

      The West is the best.

      • j0esixpack - Jun 5, 2012 at 2:42 PM

        Backing away from our prediction of the Spurs in a cakewalk I see.

        Typical.

      • bozosforall - Jun 5, 2012 at 7:58 PM

        What does it matter. The West is the best either way. Just like last season…and the season before…and the season before.

  6. mungman69 - Jun 5, 2012 at 6:59 AM

    Man, what a series. Spurs take game 6?

  7. blacc24 - Jun 5, 2012 at 7:27 AM

    No love for OKC coach totally eliminated Tony Parker from pick and roll.

  8. loungefly74 - Jun 5, 2012 at 9:12 AM

    man…I was ripping this kid before he got drafted, making fun of him for not being able to do 1 bench press and just calling him an all around bust. except for thinking my ex-wife was the love of my life…i have never been more wrong…

    • teamobijuan - Jun 5, 2012 at 10:08 AM

      How many times can you bench 225? And how many times should a finesse shooter do the same?

      • loungefly74 - Jun 5, 2012 at 10:20 AM

        I can’t…but that’s not the point. (arches eyebrow…)

        like i said, i was wrong about KD. him not being able to do 1 bench press at 225 did draw some flak though. the concern was he was weak and couldn’t grind it out against tougher players. believe it or not, most NBA players are well-conditioned athletes. but that doesn’t matter now. the guy can play as we all know.

    • connaniii - Jun 6, 2012 at 2:49 PM

      THis “kid” is the closet thing to the ICEMAN! take it from a battle tested veteran…

  9. teamobijuan - Jun 5, 2012 at 9:17 AM

    I hereby request that the word “flop” be swapped out for “Ginobili”.

    Eg, “The NBA needs to really do something about all the Ginobiliing going on. It’s ruining the game.”

    • lyndseymarieee - Jun 5, 2012 at 10:54 AM

      Parker/Ginobili should be interchangeable.

    • jolink653 - Jun 5, 2012 at 1:10 PM

      totally agree…this guy spends more time on the floor looking at the refs than he does on his feet…parker i can at least respect because he does take some hard fouls but ginobili is just ridiculous and i can’t wait until flopping becomes punishable and he’s forced to stop…it ruins the game

  10. furio2929 - Jun 5, 2012 at 9:57 AM

    I’m a Spurs fan and it’s not over yet. But I must admit, Durant is on my top 3 NBA players. He plays with a lot of heart and is a very good role model for our youth.

    • teamobijuan - Jun 5, 2012 at 10:01 AM

      I’ve become a huge fan of Durant over these playoffs, but I think he could use some more heart and take command sometimes. He almost seems like the Robin to Westbrook’s Batman too much. That is backwards.

      • lyndseymarieee - Jun 5, 2012 at 10:55 AM

        He has taken command in the second half of the last two games and he shows more heart than 97% of other NBA players out there. This kid is the real deal and has an extremely bright future ahead of him.

    • connaniii - Jun 6, 2012 at 2:54 PM

      can I change “very good” for excellent?

  11. lucky5934 - Jun 5, 2012 at 10:41 AM

    This Thunder team reminds me of a young Bulls team from the late 80’s/very early 90’s. Durant/Westbrook playing the role of Jordan/Pippen and then the rest are a well balanced supporting cast.

  12. lakerluver - Jun 5, 2012 at 10:57 AM

    I can not believe they have beaten the Spurs 3 straight. I think Okc’s gonna end it in 6, though I picked the Spurs initially. The Thunder are a very scary YOUNG team. If they can stay grounded and stay together how many titles can they string together? The youngest AND best team in the league?!! Wow!

  13. 11jlacy - Jun 5, 2012 at 11:25 AM

    Pop wanted nasty here u go meet kevin(therealmvp)durant.

  14. Miami Heat Devotion - Jun 5, 2012 at 11:48 AM

    Well, Harden’s contract is coming up soon, that’s gonna have a big impact on how that team turns out. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Spurs take it still cause they don’t rely on jump shots as much. but if OKC does make it the jump shots won’t fall in Miami

    • jolink653 - Jun 5, 2012 at 1:12 PM

      they’ll resign harden and ibaka the way they did with durant and westbrook…this core is gonna be together for a long time

      • Miami Heat Devotion - Jun 11, 2012 at 2:55 PM

        they can’t sign everybody to that much money, you have to assume Harden and Ibaka will take less b/c they won’t get Durant and Westbrook money

      • jolink653 - Jun 14, 2012 at 8:10 PM

        i meant they’ll sign both harden and ibaka before they hit the free agent market so they’ll have the core there long term to build around…harden and ibaka won’t make as much clearly but they’ll be extended

  15. 40thstreetblack - Jun 5, 2012 at 12:06 PM

    225lbs is what they lift at the NFL combine, 185lbs is the weight at NBA pre draft camp. That being said it really doesn’t matter because this kid is a flat out stud regardless.

  16. lakerluver - Jun 5, 2012 at 4:16 PM

    Ok, we all simply misunderstood what LeBron really said. He actually said, “OKC, will win not 1, not 2, not 3…………” if the Heatles make it to the Finals they will NOT beat the Thunder. OKC’s 3 stars are just as good (if not better) than Miami’s. And OKC’s 4-12 is much better. It’s probably a moot point because the C’s will win tonight and end it in 6 back in Boston.

  17. cordae - Jun 5, 2012 at 4:47 PM

    ” James Harden stepped up with 12 huge fourth-quarter points on just four shots, which included four three-pointers and the dagger with the shot clock winding down that effectively sealed it.”

    I’m not the sharpest, but according to my math 12 points IS 4 threes. So they cant include it.

    But on to the real comment. This team is so humble I wouldnt be surprised if they pulled a Tom Brady (taking a pay-cut) to keep that core together. They have the formula to be great for years to come, A great point, TWO great wings, and a formidable frontline in Ibaka/Perkins. Then again they are young, I hope they dont give in to the cash and see the REAL prize, the possibility of a string of rings.

    • lyndseymarieee - Jun 5, 2012 at 6:49 PM

      I think Harden and Ibaka will take less cash to stay. If they’re smart they will. If OKC can keep this core together they will win multiple championships over the next 5 years or so.

  18. 11jlacy - Jun 5, 2012 at 8:11 PM

    Okc is a very young n dangerous team and im a laker fan ya dig the league gotta watch out.

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