This was that golden matchup Reggie Jackson spoke of Monday, the mismatch that, if you go to it, inevitably will result in a good shot.
“It doesn't matter who in the gym is guarding him,” Jackson insisted.
On Tuesday night it was Anthony Randolph's turn.
And he didn't stand a chance.
Kevin Durant torched Randolph and the Denver Nuggets for nearly three quarters before Scott Brooks finally called off his biggest dog and settled for a 109-81 win in the Thunder's preseason home opener.
By the time Durant strolled to the bench with 5:06 remaining, he took his seat with a game-high 36 points in 23 minutes. He made 13 of 20 shots, connecting on half of his eight 3-point tries and converting six of seven foul shots.
At halftime, Durant had 22 points on 8-for-13 shooting.
Randolph was scoreless with two fouls.
“You just got to get him the ball and get out the way sometimes,” Jackson said, grinning from ear to ear. “Sometimes that's just the job for the night.”
Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha had 13 points apiece for the Thunder. Ibaka and rookie guard Andre Roberson each had nine rebounds, sharing game-high honors.
But this game was all about Durant.
He added six rebounds, four assists and stretches of stellar defense. From the opening tip, he totally controlled the game. On both ends. Durant had 11 points on 5-for-6 shooting with two assists, a steal and a blocked shot in his first 7½ minutes, helping the Thunder jump to a 30-17 lead after one quarter.
“He played a very good floor game, a very good defensive game, an all-around game,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “And we expect that out of him.”
Brooks shot down the notion that more pressure is on Durant with starting point guard Russell Westbrook sidelined for at least the first month of the season.
“I think that is manufactured through the media,” Brooks said. “The pressure is to play as hard as you can and to play for your teammates every single night. If you do that, everything will work itself out.”
It might simply be the stress-free exhibition season, but Durant is playing as loose as we've ever seen him. He's showing more confidence in all aspects and leading his younger teammates with words of wisdom.
“But I also don't want to talk too much,” Durant said. “I just want to let them play and go through it and learn from mistakes just like people let me do it. I want to be a leader and help them out, but I also want them to just go out there and play their games and play off instincts. I don't want them to be robots out there.”
A growing area of concern is the Thunder's 3-point shooting. Oklahoma City went 5-for-17 from downtown Tuesday, meaning everyone not named Kevin Durant combined to shoot 1-for-9 beyond the arc.
In three preseason games, Durant is 8-for-17 from behind the 3-point line. The rest of the team is 5-for-41 from that distance.
“It's definitely something that we talk about,” Brooks said. “As a group we want to be a good 3-point shooting team. We feel like we have good 3-point shooters. But we're not pushing the panic button after three exhibition games. But the 3-point ball is powerful. It's a great shot in today's game. You have to be able to knock it in.”