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Ball Don't Lie

Kevin Durant tries to steal ball as Jeremy Lin calls timeout, which … um … y’know (Video)

Dan Devine
Ball Don't Lie

First, Kendrick Perkins made a point of trying to shake up Patrick Beverley with a hard (and illegal) screen right off the start of Saturday's Game 3 between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets. Then, with the Thunder up by a whopping 26 points early in the second quarter after a Reggie Jackson jumper, Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin dribbled the ball over half-court and pulled up to call a timeout ... to which Oklahoma City star Kevin Durant responded by doing this:

Hey, that looks familiar. Where have I seen something like that before?

Oh, that's right:

It bears a remarkable similarity to the play Beverley made on Thunder guard Russell Westbrook during the second quarter of Game 2 in this series, which resulted in a partial tear of the lateral meniscus in Westbrook's right knee, an injury that required surgery that will shelve Westbrook for the remainder of the 2013 postseason.

Surely, any similarity is purely coincidental ... right?

Westbrook, like many Thunder fans, was reportedly "irate" at Beverley after learning he'd suffered a tear on the play, which is a play that Beverley has made before, a play that Westbrook himself has made before, and a play that plenty of other players have made before. Now, Durant's part of the club.

I wonder if we're going to hear lots of breathless opining from columnists and TV talking heads about how Durant's play was "bush league," as many called Beverley's play. About how the All-NBA forward so brazenly violated one of the unwritten rules of the NBA game by taking a hard, unnecessary swipe at Lin, who played Saturday with a chest contusion suffered during Houston's Game 2 loss on Wednesday, or about how the 24-year-old All-Star is a cheap-shot artist who has no respect for the integrity of the game and the way it should be played, charges popularly levied against the heretofore little-known Rockets guard after Game 2.

Somehow, I doubt it.

[Related: Without Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant carries the Thunder]

Playing without Westbrook by his side for the first time in five years, Durant was brilliant in the opening half of Game 3 in Houston, scoring 27 points on 9 for 16 shooting, including a 3 for 4 mark from 3-point land, and grabbed six rebounds in 24 minutes. That's right: He played the entire first half, and Oklahoma City led Houston 66-49 at halftime. Lin winced in pain after Durant caught him on the right arm and did not return in the second quarter; he played just 4:50 in the third quarter and struggled mightily, though he didn't want to attribute it to the chest injury or any post-timeout reaggravation.

“If I choose to go out there and play, then I’ve got to perform and that’s basically it,” Lin told Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. He didn't play at all in the fourth quarter, and will once again be a game-time decision for Monday's Game 4.

The Rockets came back strong in the second half, relying on a small lineup and spreading the floor with shooters to claw back, much as they did in the fourth quarter of Game 3. But a big fourth quarter from Durant — 12 points, including a huge final-minute 3-pointer — put the finishing touches on his masterful performance and a 104-101 win that gave the Thunder a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Durant finished with 41 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and two steals in the win. Beverley and Lin combined for just eight points on 4 for 16 shooting and four assists in 40 1/2 total minutes.

If the clip up top isn't working for you, please feel free to check it out elsewhere, thanks to Daily Thunder's Royce Young.

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