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King Kevin Durant credits his Thunder Nation for Game 5 triumph

by Berry Tramel Published: April 28, 2011

Clutch is a many splendored thing.

Last-second shots are the garden variety that make their way to SportsCenter. Then there is the deeper forms of clutch, which make their way to legend.

Kevin Durant's legend grew Wednesday night. Grew like a beanstalk. Grew like he must have grown as a kid back in suburban D.C. Grew like the Thunder's confidence every time one of his Kevinly shots found the net in crunchtime.

Durant scored 14 points in the final 31/2 minutes to rescue the Thunder from uh-oh land. The Thunder beat Denver 100-97 to secure Oklahoma City's first playoff advancement. The Thunder moves on up to the Western Conference semifinals, and Durant moves on up the ladder of NBA superstars with his 41-point game.

“First time in the playoffs I felt this confidence,” said Durant, even though he opened this series with a 41-point game.

Durant soared on this national stage. Sometimes with one hand (twice nestling those squeezably soft one-handers into the basket when the Thunder just had to have a basket, again with just nine seconds left to block J.R. Smith's 3-point prayer) and sometimes with two (for his Rifleman-quick release of a shot).

Durant put his team on his back and this city into exhilaration. A playoff series won. The Western semifinals against San Antonio or Memphis awaits.

“Our crowd really won the game for us,” Durant said. “They really pulled us through when we were down. Shows how much we are blessed to be a part of this great city.”

Durant blessed to have OKC? How about OKC blessed to have Durant?

But while Oklahoma City will remember this night for the streamers flowing and the celebration on the court and for this maiden feeling of playoff success, NBA Nation will remember this night for Durant's singleness of purpose. On a night when his team couldn't shoot straight, Durant refused to let his team lose.

I hate statements like that. I never make them. But what else is there to say, what else is there to believe, after watching this?

Tramel: Quite a night for the OKC crowd

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by Berry Tramel
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 Oklahoman,...
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