OKC Thunder: Kevin Durant needs to shoot more

Berry Tramel commentary -- The Thunder has to have Durant be selfish in a game like this. He's a heck of a playmaker, but he's an even better scorer. Slay the dragon. Shoot the ball. Win the game.
by Berry Tramel Modified: May 19, 2012 at 1:38 am •  Published: May 19, 2012

LOS ANGELES — Here's why the Lakers beat the Thunder 99-96 Friday night and kept their hopes alive.

Kobe Bryant hogged the ball. Kevin Durant didn't. That's no rip of Kobe. Sometimes hogging is good.

Kobe launched 25 shots and 18 foul shots; he made few field goals (nine) but all of the foul shots. Durant launched 23 shots and six foul shots; Durant made 12 field goals and all of his foul shots.

And he passed too much. Scotty Brooks said so after Game 2, and his assessment of Game 3 should be the same. Sometimes, you just have to shoot.

This game turned with 1:51 left, when Durant drove the lane with the Thunder owning a three-point lead. Durant dropped a nice little pass to Kendrick Perkins, which usually is a good basketball play. But not this time.

Perk is a stallion in this series, but not with the ball in his hands. Too many Laker skyscrapers for the vertically-challenged Perkins to muscle the ball into the hoop. Metta World Chaos blocked Perk's layup, Kobe Bryant hit a basket on the other end, and the Lakers lived — and won it — at the foul line the rest of the way.

Shoot the ball, Kevin. In the lane, the Thunder's best hope is the trick shots of KD. His up-and-under scoop shots were on again, and during a stretch of the second half when the Thunder missed nine straight shots, the slump was book-ended by a driving Durant bank shot that seemed unmakeable and a how-did-he-make-that trick shot that started with Durant making a remarkable jumping catch, then lofting the ball while falling on his back and barely off the floor.

Durant was sensation, with 31 points on 12-of-23 shooting. But the Thunder needed Durant to take 25 shots, or even 30, on this night.

Now, the good news is that the Thunder remains in control of this series, two games to one. And the Lakers have to do this all over again Saturday night, when their legs will be gone from chasing the baby Boomers and their bodies sore from all those fouls and their psyche wondering if the whistle will blow as crazy as it did Friday night.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The...
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