The final eight seconds of Team USA's 86-85 exhibition win over Spain on Sunday night in Madrid belonged to Kevin Durant.
The Thunder forward secured the victory not with a game-winning shot but with two game-saving blocks. His swats — which prevented corner 3-pointers by Ricky Rubio and Rudy Fernandez — preserved an unblemished record for the United States heading into its fourth and final exhibition game Wednesday against Greece.
More importantly, Durant's timely defense punctuated his month-long development with Team USA and perhaps foreshadowed not only what's to come during the FIBA World Championship, which begin Saturday in Turkey, but also the 2010-11 NBA season.
Against a Spanish team that is the defending FIBA world champion and considered by many to be this year's favorite, Durant produced a performance that could best be described as his international breakout game. He scored a game-high 25 points on nine of 16 shooting. He pulled down 10 rebounds. He answered Spain when it took its first lead of the game by swishing a driving scoop shot to tie the score at 82-all.
Durant exceeded every lofty expectation that was placed upon him entering this summer's games, while kicking the criticism he collected following sub par showings in his first two exhibitions. And after such a stellar performance, with the world watching, there's no telling what we might see next — as if what we've witnessed thus far hasn't been impressive enough.
Before the U.S. team of hopefuls could even convene in Las Vegas for the start of its first 2010 training camp on July 24, Durant was dubbed the face of Team USA. He responded by repeatedly reminding the media that basketball is a team game and that no player, especially on Team USA, is bigger than another. But on Sunday, he showed he can indeed fulfill that role.