No rest for Thunder's Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook

By JOHN ROHDE, Staff Writer, jrohde@opubco.com Published: February 16, 2011
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Thunder small forward Kevin Durant said he needs to get away from basketball for a while, and that's exactly what he'll do this week during NBA All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles.

Wait a minute. Huh?

"This is going to be a fun week for me," Durant said. "Getting away from the game of basketball just a little bit is going to be good. I think the game so much (more intensely) at a different level as far as playing in a real game that counts. Just to go out there (LA) and have some fun … My hobby is playing basketball, so going there and seeing the dunk contest or being in the 3-point contest, that's going to take my mind away from it."

Durant and Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook admit they have been tired at times this season, but in the midst of a seven-day break from 82 regular-season games, the Thunder's All-Star tandem gladly accepts there will be no rest for the weary.

Ask Durant and Westbrook if they would prefer to rest rather than partake in All-Star Weekend and they'll look at you sideways.

"You kiddin'?" said Westbrook, flashing a smile and shaking his head.

Durant and Westbrook have felt fatigue at times this season, understandable given their recent schedules.

Neither missed a start last season and Westbrook hasn't missed a game since cracking the starting lineup exactly 200 games ago.

Durant, who has sat out four games this season due to ankle and knee injuries, ranks third in the league in minutes played at 39.6 mpg.

Add to the mix a gold-medal performance as members of Team USA at the FIBA World Championship in Turkey last summer.

While it is notable Durant and Westbrook have played roughly 110 organized games in a one-year span (including exhibitions games), teams that go deep into the NBA playoffs play even more than that, which is foreign territory Durant and Westbrook soon hope to explore.

"I was tired a few weeks ago when we played those three overtime games (in a seven-game span), but that's what off days are for," Durant said. "Coach (Scott Brooks) does a good job of giving us off days and practicing."

The 22-year, 141-day-old Durant has learned he's not as young as he once was.

"I'm a guy who loves to be in a gym," Durant said, "but I'm starting to realize when I need to take off and when I need to come in. During my off days, I just relax, get my mind ready for the next game and come out as energized as I can."

Durant will compete in the 3-point contest on Saturday and start for the West squad in the All-Star Game on Sunday. He also will coach teammate Serge Ibaka in Saturday night's dunk contest. The 21-year-old Ibaka also will compete for the sophomore team in the Rookie Challenge.

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