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James Harden gets the big headlines, but Kevin Durant quietly led Thunder to victory

Sure James Harden deserves top billing for hitting the biggest shot of this series, and his life. But the 27 points Durant crammed into three quarters carried the Thunder in Game 5.
by Mike Sherman Published: June 5, 2012

SAN ANTONIO — Sometimes you wonder if Kevin Durant doesn't take this believing in his teammates thing a little too far.

Like Monday night, when the player Spurs coach Gregg Popovich calls “arguably the best player on the planet” did not attempt a shot in the second quarter. Not one.

Not with control of the Western Conference Finals at stake. Not with the Spurs scoring on seven straight possessions and looking like they were going to turn Game 5 into a best-of their Games 1-2 offensive tutorial.

About all that kept them from doing it was Daequan Cook (remember him?).

And about the time everyone in Oklahoma felt like channeling Catherine O'Hara in “Home Alone” by screaming “KEVIN???????” at their television set, the NBA's three-time leading scorer swooped in to do what Scott Brooks, Manu Ginobili and everyone else who has really been paying attention knew he he'd do.

He saved the Thunder.

Sure James Harden deserves top billing for hitting the biggest shot of this series, and his life. And the Thunder would not have been going home one win away from the NBA Finals without all eight of those points Cook scored in a four-minute stretch of the fourth quarter. But it was all that other stuff, and those 27 points, that Durant crammed into three quarters that steadied and carried the Thunder to victory.

Durant's Game 5 performance was no where near as dramatic or commanding as his fourth-quarter takeover in Game 4, when he scored 18 of his 36 points in a seven-minute stretch to help the Thunder even the series 2-2.

But no one, especially San Antonio, sloughed it off.

“He's always a factor,” Ginobili said. “Sometimes he can step aside for a little bit and give room to Harden or Westbrook, but he's always a threat. So easy for him to score that whenever you blink, he can get going and get seven, nine points in a minute.”

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by Mike Sherman
Sports Editor
Mike Sherman is sports editor of The Oklahoman, where he has a combined 18 years of service during two stints as a writer and an editor. He covered high school sports for The Oklahoman from 1984-93. He also worked as a news writer for the...
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