On Thursday night, three-time scoring champ Kevin Durant officially became an All-Star for the fourth straight season and was voted as a starter for the third straight year.
He punctuated the honor Friday night by scoring a career-high 52 points in the Thunder's 117-114 overtime victory over the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center
“It never gets old,” Durant said before the. “You can't take something like that for granted, no matter what. Growing up, I remember when I was in seventh grade the game was in Washington, D.C. I just wanted to be a part of that. I wanted to sit on the front row and watch the dunk contest. I wanted to play in the game.”
The reaction of Thunder coach Scott Brooks: “He's one of the best players in the game and it's great that the fans have acknowledged that also. He's everything (that's) right about the NBA.”
HARD TO GUARD
Thunder reserve forward Nick Collison considers Dallas power forward Dirk Nowitzki is the most difficult player he has had to defend.
“When you guard someone like that, you try to just make his shots difficult. You can't block them,” Collison explained said of the 7-foot Nowitzki, who has a high release point on his shot and unlimited range. “That's the same thing with Kevin (Durant). You concentrate more on trying to get him to catch the ball somewhere else than where they want to catch it.”
Nowitzki started Friday's game 0 for 7 from the field, was 1 for 11 through three quarters and finished 5 for 19 with 18 points.
Thunder sixth man Kevin Martin continues to struggle on the road.
Martin entered Friday's game averaging 16.9 points at Chesapeake Energy Arena and 12.5 points everywhere else this season.
He is shooting 48.1 percent from the field, 50.5 percent on 3-pointers and 92.5 percent at the free-throw line at The Peake, while on the road he was shooting 38.3 percent from the field, 33.3 percent on 3-pointers and 89.1 percent at the line.
Against the Mavs, Martin made three of his first four shots, then missed six straight. He finished 3 for 10 from the field and 1 for 6 from 3-point range for 11 points.
Brooks said he hadn't noticed Martin's road woes.
“No I haven't, and I'm not going to tell him that, either,” Brooks said. “I know we need his activity, his points off the bench, his playmaking, his ability to draw defenses towards him because everybody knows he's been one of the best scorers from that position for a lot of years. Even when he doesn't score, he attracts attention (from defenders).
It remains to be seen who will coach the Western Conference in the 62nd NBA All-Star Game on Feb. 17 in Houston, but it won't be Brooks.
Coaches are not allowed to be the All-Star coach in consecutive seasons and Brooks coached the West to a 152-149 victory last year in Orlando.
It prevents a potential homecoming of sorts for Brooks, who played 2½ seasons with the Houston Rockets (1992-95) and won the 1994 NBA title.
“Do they still like me there?” Brooks joked. “(Coaching last year) was pretty cool, just to meet some of the players and see how they are off the court. … It was fun being around the guys. It's an honor.”
The cutoff date is Feb. 3. The coach with the best record in his conference will coach the All-Star team.
Appearing Thursday on the Dan Patrick Show, Durant sheepishly admitted he wanted to play for the Toronto Raptors fan because he liked their uniforms growing up and he was a huge Vince Carter fan.
On Friday night, Durant defended Carter and they frequently chatted during stoppages in play.
The Thunder is now 3-2 in its navy blue “alternate” uniforms, and snapped a two-game losing streak at Minnesota and at Washington ... The Thunder entered the game as the NBA's top 3-point shooting team at 39.2 percent, but converted just 6 of 20 (. 300) beyond the arc. … Thanks to Durant making 21 of 21 free throws, OKC shot 91.7 percent (33 for 36) from the line.
Durant on the difference in his game since his first All-Star appearance in 2010: “I've just gotten more comfortable and more confident in myself. I've become stronger as a player. Mainly, confidence elevates everything else.”
BY JOHN ROHDE