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Kevin Durant scores 41 points as Thunder take care of Suns

Jan 15, 2013, 1:42 AM EDT

Thunder forward Durant reacts after a three point shot against the Atlanta Hawks in the second half of their NBA basketball game in Atlanta Reuters

PHOENIX — The Thunder were shorthanded for the second game in as many nights on Monday, with Serge Ibaka sidelined due to injury. But at this point, with this team, all they need is a healthy dose of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and they’ll be able to beat most teams on most nights.

The Suns were the latest victims of the team with the best record in the league, as Durant and Westbrook combined for 77 points to help Oklahoma City become the first team to reach 30 wins this season with a 102-90 victory over the Suns.

“You don’t see that often,” Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said afterward. “Two guys just take over the game offensively in that second half. You can’t say anything other than just make sure you set good screens, make sure you execute, and run the plays … Those guys are special players, they make baskets and just make the team go.”

The takeover from Durant and Westbrook was massive, especially in the second half.

The two combined to score 47 of the Thunder’s 51 second-half points, which would have been enough to beat the Suns over the final two periods all by themselves. Phoenix had 45 total points over that same span, but Durant’s fourth quarter was special, and was enough to seal the game for his team down the stretch.

“Yeah, that’s our time,” Durant said. “We play so well off each other, and it’s not like it’s drawn for us to take all the shots in the fourth. We move the ball pretty well throughout the game and that allows us to make shots in the fourth quarter.”

Phoenix closed the third on a 14-4 run to pull them within just four heading into the final period. But while the Suns had to execute perfectly to get only occasionally decent looks, the Thunder had Durant, who could score essentially at will on this night, and did so deliberately on several late consecutive possessions.

After Westbrook scored five straight points to turn a five-point OKC lead into 10, Durant scored his team’s next 10 points, and did so in a cold-blooded manner that was simply unstoppable.

Durant’s 10-point burst came against just two for the Suns during a span that lasted less than two minutes. When it was over, so was the game, as the Thunder led by 16 points with 2:23 remaining.

The final field goal from Durant came in emphatic fashion, as he shook Michael Beasley out top enough to blow by him into the lane, and finished with a vicious dunk over Marcin Gortat that put the exclamation point on both his night and his team’s victory at the same time.

“I’m just out here having fun,” Durant said of the dunk. “I might have gotten away with a carry on that play, but I was able to free myself up and when I saw the lane, they’d been doing such a great job of contesting at the rim that I just tried to finish with some strength.”

Durant himself is the strength of this Thunder team, and he, along with Westbrook, can be two virtually unstoppable offensive forces when necessary. That’s what makes them one of the toughest teams in the league to contain, and it’s why Oklahoma City finds itself at the top of the league-wide standings 38 games into the season.

  1. azcards - Jan 15, 2013 at 1:46 AM

    The Suns need to take notes and see what happens when a team builds through the draft. Use OKC as am example to follow.

    • nbascreed - Jan 15, 2013 at 8:20 AM

      1. Exactly right…and not just the Suns! The Wolves could use a dose of this too!

      2. That hesitation on Beasley was SWEET! I’ve said it a million times on this board but KD’s handle was very pedestrian coming out of Austin. He has worked incredibly hard on his ballhandling and 1:1 game and it shows. He will overtake LBJ as best player if not next year then year after that.

      3. What’s sad however is that the difference in Beasley and Durant is about 25% talent and about 75% commitment, professionalism, seriousness about one’s craft and discipline (and desire). I watched Beasley for two years in Minnesota. There is no reason he shouldn’t be excelling as a 2nd tier (1st = Melo, LBJ, Durant) small forward in this league.

  2. 32magicman - Jan 15, 2013 at 2:38 AM

    If only every draft had a kevin durant….

  3. mungman69 - Jan 15, 2013 at 4:08 AM

    Durant is a special player that doesn’t come around too often. Just think, some scouts said that he couldn’t play.

  4. brotherlove2012 - Jan 15, 2013 at 7:28 AM

    And these scouts should be shot by their respective teams …

  5. davidly - Jan 15, 2013 at 8:12 AM

    Dude really throws it down, don’ ‘e?

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