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Wednesday NBA grades: Kevin Durant ends season exactly like you think he would

Apr 17, 2014, 2:10 AM EDT

Kevin Durant Kevin Durant

Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while losing yourself in an oral history of the rap battles from 8 Mile….

source:  Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder. Great stat via Royce Young at Durant is only the fourth player to average 32 points, seven rebounds and five assists a game for a season. Who are the other three? Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan and Elgin Baylor. Durant is your MVP ladies and gentlemen, and he played like it on the final night of the season, dropping 42 on the Pistons to make sure the Thunder get the two seed and have home court against the Clippers. The Thunder were down 8 entering the fourth quarter and down 5 with 1:30 left, but Durant scored 21 points in the fourth quarter and sparked a 10-2 run to close out the game so the Thunder won. And he hit the game winner with authority.

source:  Memphis Grizzlies. They needed to win to avoid the Spurs in the first round (ever since they beat the Spurs in the playoffs a few years back the Spurs have absolutely owned the Grizzlies). Dallas also had been swept by the Spurs and wanted to avoid a trip to the Riverwalk, but in overtime the Grizzlies had Mike Conley who had 5 points in the extra period, including a head-down rim attack to draw a foul late, then sank the free throws that were the game winners. Monta Ellis had a clean look at the game winner for Dallas but it bounced harmlessly off the rim. So congratulations on the win Memphis… now go prepare for Kevin Durant.

source:  Brooklyn Nets. They stumble and look unimpressive in their final two games of the season, getting crushed by the Knicks and Cavaliers. For that they now get to face the Raptors instead of the Bulls in the first round… are you sure that wasn’t intentional?

source:   Trey Burke, Utah Jazz. The first of three rookies to make the grades on the last night of the season. He missed the start of the season due to injury and had his share of his rookie stumbles as happens, but he is learning. He dropped 32 on the Timberwolves, including nine in the second overtime, to secure a Jazz win on the final night of the season. There’s a lot of building to do in Utah, but he should be part of it.

source:   Ben McLemore, Sacramento Kings. The Suns beat the Kings on the final night of the season because the Suns are a better team. McLemore struggled this season as he adjusted to the NBA, but he showed flashes and improvement as it went on, and he did that again on Wednesday with a career-high 31 points, five assists, and five rebounds. His athleticism wasn’t ever in question, but when you combine it with his jump shot falling watch out.

source:   Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Detroit Pistons. Leave on a high note — this was easily his best game of the season. Caldwell-Pope had 30 points on 11-of-19 shooting, more importantly he was aggressive. He can play a quiet game, just trying to fit in, and Wednesday night he wanted the rock and wanted to make plays. That Caldwell-Pope needs to show up in Detroit for next season.

  1. antistratfordian - Apr 17, 2014 at 2:21 AM

    “Kevin Durant ends season exactly like you think he would”

    … I don’t think anyone expected to see Kevin Durant playing 45 minutes in the last game of the season against the lowly Pistons trying to prevent sliding to the 3 seed. That was kind of odd. Almost desperate.

    • shadowgamesshades - Apr 17, 2014 at 3:00 AM

      Who wants to slide to 3rd and risk an upset?

    • apkyletexas - Apr 17, 2014 at 4:22 AM

      The Thunder had competition for the #2, unlike the Heat who lost 15 of their final 26 and still coasted into 2nd place easily. The Heat would have ended up somewhere between the 4th and 6th seed in the West with their record.

      • casualcommenter - Apr 17, 2014 at 4:39 AM

        Agreed. The fact that everybody who understands basketball accepts that the Western Conference is far stronger than the Eastern Conference this year is why Durant will be winning the MVP this year.

        Winning the 2 seed in the West is so much more impressive than winning the 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, where the 3 seed Toronto Raptors would be tied for the 9th seed in the West. Only an idiot could think LeBron leading the Heat to 5 fewer wins than OKC despite Wade missing fewer games than Westbrook was somehow MVP worthy.

      • antistratfordian - Apr 17, 2014 at 5:39 AM

        The Thunder didn’t handle their business and allowed themselves to have competition for the #2.

    • casualcommenter - Apr 17, 2014 at 4:36 AM

      The Miami Heat played LeBron James over 40 minutes per game down the stretch in several losses to teams like the Timberwolves and Grizzlies in a desperate (and failed) attempt to claim the number 1 seed in a historically awful Eastern Conference. The Heat then gave LeBron just 2 games off before the playoffs once it was clear they had no chance at surpassing the Pacers, and the Heat could do that because the 3 seed in the Eastern Conference won only 48 games, which would have left them as the 9th seed in the far superior Western Conference.

      The fact that the 2 seed in the Western Conference is far more meaningful and impressive than the 2 seed in the Eastern Conference is one reason why Kevin Durant, and not LeBron, will be winning the MVP this year.

      • antistratfordian - Apr 21, 2014 at 3:38 PM

        The level of impressiveness of the 2 seed in the Western Conference has nothing to do with why Durant will win MVP. The fact that LeBron already has 4 MVPs is why Durant will win MVP.

    • casualcommenter - Apr 17, 2014 at 4:43 AM

      The Miami Heat played LeBron major minutes in recent games against the Timberwolves, Grizzlies, and Hawks in a desperate attempt to win the #1 seed. Because the Heat lost all those games despite LeBron averaging 40 minutes per game, the Heat decided to sit LeBron for the final two games since they had no shot at the 1 seed anymore.

      The Heat wanted the 1 seed and failed to surpass the slumping Pacers because they couldn’t beat 3 teams whose average record is roughly 0.500. Not almost desperate – definitely desperate.

  2. spyder9669 - Apr 17, 2014 at 2:54 AM

    How bout some love for Archie Goodwin and his 30 pts and 3 poster dunks after riding the bench all year!

    • thundercocck - Apr 17, 2014 at 6:20 AM

      Watch out for Archie Goodwin. I watched him light up the summer league, I’m sure he can do it in the NBA too if given the opportunity.

  3. davidly - Apr 17, 2014 at 5:03 AM

    Rasual Butler, Indiana Pacers.
    The old man on the squad at 34 played an average of less than 8 minutes per game this season when he played at all, but with Stephenson parked on the bench last night getting well-deserved rest, “Rasu-tombo” went 8-13, 2-4 from three for 19 points, 5 assists and no turnovers. And he dunked — twice! Making it back into the NBA can be nicer than having got there in the first place, even if all you get is an honorable mention.

  4. lakerade - Apr 17, 2014 at 5:08 AM

    No question Durant is the regular season MVP. Also no question the East is weak, again. The West playoffs will have some high level hoops while the East will be a scrum, unless Toronto gets 2009 Orlando hot.

    • john242322 - Apr 17, 2014 at 9:35 AM

      lol easy there now. Champs have come out of the East the last 2 years in a row, wouldn’t be surprised if the Pacers or Heat come out as this year’s champs either

    • jimeejohnson - Apr 17, 2014 at 10:49 AM

      If not for LeBron, KD wins it the past couple of seasons, too.

  5. buffalo65 - Apr 17, 2014 at 7:01 AM

    Careful what you wish for Brooklyn.

  6. spursareold - Apr 17, 2014 at 9:41 AM

    Shooting FTs? YAY! I guessed right!!!!

  7. phx1311 - Apr 17, 2014 at 11:44 AM

    A Suns rookie dropped 29 on the kings but a losing king gets an A……b.s.

  8. canadatude - Apr 17, 2014 at 12:17 PM

    Any team tanking games like Brooklyn did should face a simple penalty.

  9. canadatude - Apr 17, 2014 at 12:22 PM

    The penalty for tanking a game should be losing a home game in the playoffs and dropping one spot in the draft.
    That would have Brooklyn playing on the road for the next few years with the last draft choice.

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