“I think Kevin's just playing his game,” Westbrook said. “He lets the game come to him. Everybody's got different personalities. Kevin's the laid-back type. Everybody knows me as the crazy type. So my job is to do that and his job is to be relaxed.” Thunder coach Scott Brooks sounds fine with the new Durant.
“I like Kevin to be a playmaker,” Brooks said. “That's what separates great players from good players. He can play-make and find shots himself and also find easy shots for his team. He's done that all season. I thought tonight he was more aggressive as the game went on, and some nights it's going to be like that. But 19 shots, I like him to be up there but also continue to pass.”
While Durant let the game come to him Thursday, it was Ibaka of all players who carried the scoring load, dumping in 11 first-quarter points to keep the Thunder hanging around with a still stingy Bulls defense playing without the injured Derrick Rose. Durant took just five shots, three of them coming in the final two minutes of that opening quarter. Yet Durant swears it's a strategy that is paying off.
“We're running a lot of pick-and-rolls,” Durant said. “You see it's getting Serge wide open shots. And when my number is called I've just got to be aggressive. I'm just going out there and doing whatever I can for the team. Coach called my number in the fourth quarter and I just had to come through for us.
“I tried my hardest to make good shots and come off of screens hard. Everybody set me up pretty nicely in that fourth. If he calls on me in the first quarter to go out there and try to score as much as I can, that's what I'm going to do. But for now I'm just going to play within the flow of the offense.”
How this new style works going forward will come to light soon enough.
For now, consider it a blessing that the Thunder has a baller capable of cruising for 45 minutes before taking over in the final three.
“That's what stars can do,” Brooks said. “They can have an average game, and then in the last four or five minutes they can win the game. And I thought that's what he did tonight. That's what makes him a special player.”