Kevin Durant stays in control, no matter his stats (Nathaniel S. Butler/ Getty).
The end of a streak does not always signal the end of an amazing run of form. On Friday night vs. the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center, Oklahoma City Thunder supernova Kevin Durant, currently playing at an MVP level and then some, scored 26 points to bring his streak of consecutive 30-point performances to a close at 12 games, a personal record and four off Kobe Bryant's mark of 16, the best such streak in the past 30 years.
So, when people look at the record books, they'll see that Durant's unreal scoring streak ended on January 31, 2014. What they won't see is that, on this night, Durant saw no dip in form. In 30 minutes, the Thunder All-Star shot 10-of-12 from the field (including 3-of-3 from long range), dished out seven assists, and finished with a +25 in OKC's 120-95 win. More than that, though, Durant looked in total control of his faculties. He found his own shot when he needed to, facilitated when it proved prudent, found space off the ball, defended very well, etc. If the Thunder hadn't held an 89-59 lead entering the fourth quarter, then Durant likely would have ended up with 30 points once again. He didn't reach the milestone because he was so effective.
While Durant has been the big story during the Thunder's current 10-game winning streak, this victory proved just how impressive the entire team has been over the last few weeks. OKC shot 63.6 percent from the field as a group, with forward Serge Ibaka making all 12 of his attempts for a new franchise record of field goals without a miss. (Note: This record includes Seattle SuperSonics history, although people could be forgiven for not recognizing that continuity.) Some blowouts call attention to the losing team's failures, but the Thunder were so effective on Friday that the Nets' struggles felt like an afterthought. In fact, Brooklyn set a new NBA record for fewest rebounds with only 17, yet it didn't even seem like a particularly embarrassing outcome.
But the focus of this game, and really all of January in the NBA, will be Durant. With co-star Russell Westbrook on the sidelines after another knee surgery, Durant elevated his game, became the big favorite to earn his first MVP honors this spring, and has the Thunder looking like the best team in the sport right now. We, like everyone else, can't wait to see what he does next.
- - - - - - -
- Sports & Recreation
- Kevin Durant
- Oklahoma City Thunder
- Brooklyn Nets