“But he did what he's supposed to do. He's supposed to lead us. And he did, he led us past the first round, and we're excited about it.”
Think about it. The Thunder took three stars to the NBA Finals last season. With the Harden trade and the Westbrook injury, the Thunder has been trying to rid itself of the Rockets with only one star. That's a big change.
But Martin returned to the form he showed earlier in the season. Makes all the difference in the world.
“K-Mart had a great first half, really kind of got ‘em up,” McHale said.
Martin had 12 points in the second half alone as the Thunder stormed back from a shaky start.
“K-Mart started us off with an incredible first half,” Brooks said. “I believe in him. The most important people that believed in him are his teammates. That's a true character win for our guys.”
Durant said he texted Martin after that Game 5 debacle, told Martin that “God is setting him up for a big game. He's a big-time scorer. In the first half, he carried us.”
And “Reggie was phenomenal, man,” Durant said. “That's what we're going to need.”
Jackson was indeed superb. He played like a season veteran. Not a guy making his fourth NBA start.
“I give Reggie a lot of credit,” Brooks said. “We said it for a week, it's unfortunate we don't have one of the best players in basketball. For Reggie to step in and play four solid basketball games at the hardest position in basketball … he led us throughout the game tonight. He made big plays, he made big passes, he made stops. He was terrific tonight.”
And so the Thunder doesn't have to deal with the ignominy of playing a Game 7 after leading a series three games to none. The Thunder gets to start anew, with Memphis in the West semifinals starting Sunday afternoon.
If Durant gets this kind of help, the Thunder could stay alive.