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Carlson: Like champions do, Kevin Durant delivered in crunchtime

by Jenni Carlson Modified: May 15, 2011 at 9:27 pm •  Published: May 15, 2011

Durant knew that had to change.

“Come in aggressive,” he told himself Sunday. “Start the game off aggressive.”

His reward for doing that?

A 2-of-9 start.

That first-quarter performance could've done in Durant, but he kept battling. He came off a screen midway through the second quarter, caught the ball in the lane and made a little jumper.

The next possession, he hit a 3-pointer on a Russell Westbrook assist.

Durant hit all four of the shots he took in the second quarter and hit 11 of 16 shots the last three quarters of the game. He got shots in rhythm. He got looks where he wanted them.

No doubt, Durant got some help from his enforcers — Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collison. Those big guys are the ones who most often set high screens for Durant, and Sunday, they were at their best.

“We were body-on-body screens (Sunday),” Brooks said, “and that enables Kevin.”

Hollins said: “They made some adjustments. They ran a little different set that didn't allow us to help as much as we had been. They ran the pick-and-roll that they run with him a little bit differently.”

But in the end, it's up to Durant to knock down the shots that he takes. And in the pressure cooker that is Game 7, that's no easy task.

Durant stepped up and performed on the NBA's biggest stage.

“There's so many things that I'm proud of Kevin for, but the main thing is he works every day — every day — to be a great player,” Brooks said. “He doesn't take any of it for granted, so I knew he would come back and have a fantastic game.”

It was more than fantastic.

It was defining.

by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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