With 11.1 seconds left in Game 1 against Memphis on Sunday, Thunder sixth man Kevin Martin leaned over the scorer's table during a timeout and said, “That's a special kid right there.”
Martin was referring to three-time scoring champ Kevin Durant, who had just buried a 19-footer to give OKC a 91-90 lead.
Durant indeed was special, as was Martin.
But the biggest reason the Thunder posted a pulsating 93-91 victory over the Grizzlies was because its defense also was special.
Durant was spectacular down the stretch, making six of his team's final seven field goals and finishing with 35 points, 15 rebounds, six assists, two blocks and one steal.
And for the second time in 36 hours, the previously struggling Martin excelled with 25 points off the bench.
Martin was 7 for 13 from the field, 3 for 5 on 3-pointers, had three rebounds and three assists in the series-clinching victory against the Houston Rockets on Friday night.
Roughly 36 hours later, he shot 8 for 14 from the field, 3 for 5 on 3-pointers and added seven rebounds in a scintillating Game 1 comeback before a sellout crowd of 18,203 at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
OKC had just the right mix of Durant and Martin on offense and timely sparks provided by the defense.
With three-time All-Star Russell Westbrook sidelined after having season-ending knee surgery, many wondered how the Thunder would replace the league's sixth-leading scorer (23.2).
Somewhat forgotten was an OKC defense that ranked second in field-goal percentage defense (.425) during the regular season.
The Memphis defense was even more impressive, leading the league in scoring defense (89.1) and opponent rebounds (39.1).
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