MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Kevin Durant is doing it all.
He's averaging 32 points, 12.3 rebounds, 6.7 assists, 1.7 steals and one blocked shot in the first three games of this semifinal series against Memphis.
He's shooting 50 percent and playing 44 minutes per game.
He's playing point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward and defending the Grizzlies' center.
“I think Kevin's playing at a level that we know that he can play at,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “This is what he does. He's a stat sheet filler. Not a lot of guys can do that. A lot of guys in this league can specialize in one thing. But he's passing, he's rebounding, his blocking shots, he's defending, he's scoring, he's getting to the free throw line ... Kevin's done everything.”
And yet he finds himself in the unenviable position of having to do more.
That's the burden Durant now carries as a star without a sidekick.
But even while doing it all, Durant is determined to do more. His team is in a 2-1 hole to the Grizzlies largely because his teammates have struggled to do their fair share.
Durant, though, isn't pointing the finger. Instead, he's looking himself in the mirror.
“I can do a lot more,” Durant said Sunday. “It's always things you can do more. I talk to one of my good friends and he said no matter how good you're playing you always can do more.
“That's how I look at it. I just got to find ways to help them out and put them in great positions and continue to just be a vocal leader, a positive leader on the bench and every single time down the court and we'll be fine.”
Durant is leading the Thunder in points, rebounds, assists and steals this postseason. Point guards Reggie Jackson and Derek Fisher are the only other Thunder players shooting at least 45 percent against the Grizzlies. No other player is above 38 percent.
Despite the absence of Russell Westbrook, only Jackson, Fisher and Kevin Martin have increased their scoring in this series from their regular season averages.
The combined ineffectiveness of the team's role players on offense has rendered Durant's all-around dominance futile.
Yet, somehow, Durant has managed to fight off frustration.
“I love my teammates,” Durant said. “It's easy to love them when things are going well. So I love them no matter what.”
In the next breath, Durant then put the onus on himself, as if enough weren't already on his shoulders.
“I have to put them in better positions,” he said. “I have to make shots to free them up. I have to continue to help their confidence grow every time down. I got to do a better job. That's how I look at it … Missed shots or made shots, they're still my teammates and I'm still going to believe in them and trust in them.
“I have full confidence that they're going to come out — we're all going to come out — next game with a different mindset of just playing even harder than we did last game.”
If a valid criticism of Durant exists it would be his two subpar performances down the stretch. He didn't score in the final three minutes of Game 2, which the Grizzlies went on to steal in Oklahoma City. And he netted just two points on 1-for-4 shooting in the fourth quarter of Game 3.
“I missed shots. It's no excuses. I just missed shots … Shots I have to make for my team. I felt bad not coming through for us last game. It's tough to really swallow. But I had to embrace that and take it head on and learn from it. But I felt worse than anybody for not coming through for my guys, especially when it was a game that we could have won.”
Hard to be the closer when you're also playing the role of starter, reliever and setup man.
But that's what Durant is now being asked to do.
By embracing and, by and large, excelling at each mounting responsibility, Durant has elevated his game to the point he is now playing what is undoubtedly the best ball of his career.
Regrettably, he's been a one-man band and it's left the best performer in this postseason two losses away from exiting stage right.
“I have the ultimate faith, man,” Durant said. “And I'm looking forward to the next game.”