Kevin Durant insists he has yet to see his latest commercial.
You know, the 30-second NBA ad that calls him “Kid Clutch.”
The slow-motion spot begins with Durant stepping into a jumper and rising high above a defender. Upon Durant's release, a phrase appears on the screen, one word at a time, branding Durant as “the shooter with the golden touch.”
As the ball travels through the air, the flashing white words remind that “we all know where this is going” and that we will be “arriving at our destination shortly.”
When the ball splashes through the net, the message reads “home sweet home.”
Then, as Durant turns and begins his trot back on defense, we're told three things.
He is automatic. He is The Real McCoy. He is BIG.
Durant was all that and then some Friday night, turning in yet another tremendous performance and punctuating it by taking over the game when it mattered most to carry the Thunder to a 101-94 win over Memphis at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The reigning two-time scoring champ scored 16 of his game-high 36 points in the fourth quarter. He dumped in 14 of the Thunder's final 17 points, all in the final five minutes to turn a one-point lead into a seven-point win. Each of those baskets will go down as production that is defined by 82games.com as “clutch” — when the game is in the fourth quarter or overtime with less than five minutes remaining and neither team is ahead by more than five points.
“He's a great player. I mean, that's all you can say. He's a great player,” said Memphis coach Lionel Hollins. “He made great plays and great shots down the stretch. He took over the game. He's going to be one of the all-time greats if he stays healthy.”
Durant's onslaught began when he tipped in his own miss to extend the Thunder's lead to 86-83 with 4:59 remaining. A gritty Grizzlies team that led by as many as 11 and was ahead by eight entering the final period never went away — until Durant finally put them away.
He hit a step-back jumper from the left baseline. He split a pair of free throws after drawing contact on an aggressive move. And he followed with another pair of foul shots.
Still, the Grizzlies were making it a game. Memphis point guard Mike Conley drained a 3 off a feed from Tony Allen to tie the game at 94-all with 1:12 left to play. Durant then unleashed his best in the last minute.
He broke the tie with a cold-blooded 3-pointer from the top of the key. Just like the commercial, it was right over the outstretched arms of a helpless defender, this time Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay. More impressively, Durant drilled it despite having missed all five of his previous attempts from long range.
“That 3, as I was shooting, it looked good,” Durant said. “But I was missing. So it was just a matter of time before one of those were going to go down for me.”
After a turnover by Conley, Durant extended the Thunder's lead to five on a beautiful, off-balance jumper. Starting at the top of the key, Durant crossed over to his right against Gay. He drove to the free throw line, stopped and got Gay to bite on a pump fake. When he did, flying by just enough to provide plenty of separation, Durant hit a fadeaway off one leg as the shot clock expired.
“Guys always bite when I give them a pump fake,” Durant said. “So I was able to get him off the ground a little bit and get me some space. I tried to shoot it good and it went in.”
It put the Thunder ahead 99-94 with 22.8 seconds remaining.
As if he hadn't done enough, Durant iced the game by rebounding a missed 3-pointer by Gay before sinking two free throws.
“When he gets it going like that, you just got to sit back and watch,” said James Harden. “He made every shot tonight at the end of the game. He led us to victory.”