OKC Thunder: Kevin Durant reaches a potentially telling milestone

by Darnell Mayberry Published: April 9, 2013

Thunder forward Kevin Durant on Tuesday night topped 20 minutes, something he's done in every game this season.

Only this time his minute total in the Thunder's game against Utah could have significant implications.

According to the ESPN.com blog TrueHoop, no player in the past nine seasons who has played at least 3,000 minutes has gone on to win the NBA championship in that season.

Durant entered Tuesday's game 20 minutes shy of the 3,000-minute plateau, prompting Thunder coach Scott Brooks to jokingly tell reporters before the game that he was shutting down Durant for the rest of the year.

“Well you guys are going to hear it first,” Brooks said. “Tonight we're going to rest Kevin for the rest of the season. Breaking news.”

The last player to win a championship in the same season that he played at least 3,000 minutes was former Detroit center Ben Wallace, according to TrueHoop.

Durant's 2,980 minutes played entering Tuesday's games led the league, while his 38.7-minute average ranked second to Chicago forward Luol Deng's 39.2. After playing 37 minutes against the Jazz, Durant now has played 3,017 minutes this season.

Brooks, however, doesn't view Durant's major minutes as much of an issue.

“He's going to play and he's going to play a lot of minutes,” Brooks said. “It hasn't affected us one bit. Obviously when you're 24 and have the energy that he has and the ability to play at the level that he has, minutes is really not a factor. We've never gone into a playoff series and said ‘Man, he's tired. He's beat up. We're not going to be able to get anything out of him.' ”

TOUGH TESTS DOWN THE STRETCH

Tuesday's game at Utah was the fourth straight tough test the Thunder faced at the start of April, and all four have come against teams that entered the game on a hot streak.

OKC started with a back-to-back against San Antonio and Indiana. The Spurs had won seven of 10 entering the game against the Thunder, and the Pacers had won five straight when they faced OKC.



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