As he started his jump shot, rising into a picturesque fadeaway from the right wing with 1.5 seconds remaining, Kevin Durant lost all sense of his surroundings. His defender didn’t matter, and he no longer could hear the commotion coming from a sold out crowd of 18,203 inside Oklahoma City Arena.
“Once I let it go,” Durant said, “it felt like everybody went silent.”
It took a while for Durant to come to.
But when he did, he came back to a chorus of cheers celebrating his first buzzer-beating, game-winner in a Thunder uniform — a 3-pointer over the outstretched arms of Danilo Gallinari that lifted Oklahoma City to a 101-98 win over New York.
“That’s one of the all-time best feelings I’ve had in this league,” said Durant, whose calm and cool walk off following the play perfectly suited one of his many nicknames, “Baby Ice.”
It’s been a long road for Durant in last-second situations. He’s misfired on so many occasions that questions emerged about his ability to make plays in the clutch. In a one-point loss at Houston on Nov. 28, Durant clanged a potential game-winning 20-foot jumper and voiced frustration over yet another missed opportunity.
This time, Durant was money.
And as his shot swished through the net, fans lingered, seemingly not wanting to head home as Kool & The Gang’s classic, “Celebration,” blared over the PA system.
Durant, whose only other buzzer-beating game winner came at Atlanta early in his rookie season, said he was relieved to finally see another last-second shot go down.