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Oklahoma City Thunder: Kevin Durant does his best Reverse Magic to lift OKC

COMMENTARY — In a role reversal, Thunder star Kevin Durant played long stretches of the game at point guard in place of his fellow superstar Russell Westbrook. But with the game on the line, Durant resumed his customary spot as clutch closer.
by Berry Tramel Published: April 28, 2013
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/articleid/3804328/1/pictures/2038403">Photo - Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant (35) goes past Houston's Omer Asik (3) during Game 3 in the first round of the NBA playoffs between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, Sat., April 27, 2013. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant (35) goes past Houston's Omer Asik (3) during Game 3 in the first round of the NBA playoffs between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, Sat., April 27, 2013. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

The Thunder's emotions were evident early and late.

Early, the Boomers bombarded the Rockets with adrenaline. The Thunder roared to a 39-19 first-quarter lead and led by as many as 26 points in the second quarter.

Most of that came with Durant as the playmaker. When new starter Reggie Jackson picked up two fouls in the first four minutes, Derek Fisher replaced him, but Durant slid over to initiate the offense.

With spectacular results. The Thunder scored on its first five possessions with Durant at point guard and 13 of its first 15.

In the first half, Durant hit two walk-it-up and throw-it-up 3-pointers, and he also made two spectacular drives for dunks from the top of the circle. He was a nightmare for the Rockets to guard.

But the Thunder's offensive efficiency dried up as its emotional tank emptied, and the Rockets clawed back into the game.

Durant had 27 points in the first half but only three points in the first 15 minutes of the second half. Down the stretch, Durant returned to dominance, with 11 points in the final 8 1/2 minutes, and the Thunder won by one of the hairs in James Harden's beard.

“I knew I had to give it my all, no matter what,” Durant said. “Don't worry about missed shots or turnovers.”

How long can Durant carry this kind of load?

“However long they need me to do it,” Durant said. “I just gotta keep playing.”

And when this game was over, normally placid Nick Collison walked off the court with his hands raised, and Durant, who played all but 44 seconds of the game, found fellow yeoman Serge Ibaka for a hug and pat of the head, and the Thunder reveled in a victory that was historic and emotional.

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 Oklahoman,...
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