HOUSTON — Kevin Durant took a charging foul early in the second quarter, swiveled to a sitting position and proclaimed, “This is my city!”
Wonder if Magic Johnson said the same thing 33 years ago?
In a reversal of one of the most stirring games in NBA history, Durant became the world's tallest point guard. Not to mention hero of the most emotional Thunder game ever.
Durant was mostly magnificent Saturday night in a 104-101 playoff victory over the Rockets at the Toyota Center, and when the magnificence ran out, the clutch remained.
In the Thunder's first game ever without Russell Westbrook, Durant stood tall. He had 41 points, 14 rebounds and the go-ahead shot, a divine 3-pointer with 41.9 seconds left. And Durant did most of his damage playing point guard.
In Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals, rookie point guard Magic Johnson played a lot of center in the place of the injured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Magic scored 42 points to lead the Lakers to the championship.
Call this a Reverse Magic. Durant took over the point.
“Kevin has done a great job of being a playmaker all season long,” Scotty Brooks said. “He's done that the last couple of years. He's an amazing scorer. But he sets up a lot of guys to get easy buckets.”
Westbrook underwent knee surgery Saturday and will not return for these playoffs. No one knew what to expect out of the Thunder, which had never played a game without Westbrook.
Brooks admitted that his team was ripe with emotion.
“I sensed that,” Brooks said. “There's no way around it. It's been an emotional 48 hours. You can't plan for that. You don't plan for that. There's nothing you can read about and manage it better.”