Oklahoma City Thunder: Kevin Durant is seeing the game at a high level

Durant's improved post-up game ultimately turned around both his and the Thunder's night against the short-handed but scrappy Pacers. “I just tried to be aggressive,” Durant said.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: December 10, 2012


photo - REACTION: Oklahoma City 's Kevin Durant (35) reacts after making a shot during the NBA basketball game between the Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, in Oklahoma City, Okla.   Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman
REACTION: Oklahoma City 's Kevin Durant (35) reacts after making a shot during the NBA basketball game between the Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, in Oklahoma City, Okla. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman

That's when Durant became double trouble.

He took advantage of a sagging George Hill and shot a pass to Russell Westbrook for an open 3. Westbrook's shot fell short, but it was a satisfactory set that led to a solid shot.

With six minutes remaining, the Pacers started switching on the screens. George took Westbrook. The smaller Hill went with Durant. Big mistake.

“George Hill is a point guard and I've got him by seven or eight inches,” Durant said. “So I just tried to bury him in the post.”

Durant began directing teammates with an extended arm and a pointed finger. He backed down Hill and shot over him. Though he missed, it was another quality shot for the Thunder.

Later, Durant easily surveyed the court over Hill and found Serge Ibaka on a backdoor cut for a reverse layup. It was Durant's fourth assist. The next possession ended with Durant knocking down a fadeaway jumper on Hill when the Paces didn't double.

Perhaps the most encouraging play, however, was one that ended in an empty possession. With 4:03 left, the Pacers had stopped switching and left George on Durant after the screen. This time, Indiana sent 7-foot-2 center Roy Hibbert on a double team. Durant patiently read it and then released the ball on time, swinging it across the court to Martin, who was wide open in the corner after the defense collapsed on Durant and a cutting Ibaka. Martin pump faked Gerald Green and stepped one foot inside the 3-point line only to miss an uncontested 2. But, again, it was a perfectly-executed play.

“Kevin did a good job of setting up and getting open and getting wide and demanding the ball,” Brooks said. “And Russell was doing a good job of finding him. And then our spacing was good. Even the shot that K-Mart missed, it was a good shot. It was off of Kevin's post up. And Serge's (layup) was off of Kevin's post up.

“Obviously we can go through Kevin with our offense not just with him scoring but him helping guys get easy buckets and he did that (Sunday). Give our guys a lot of credit, they're developing patience in the post-up game.”

Durant has become the driving force.

“He has worked on it and he has developed it,” Brooks said. “He has progressed every year in that area. It's not that we have to have him score every time. But if he has the guy one-on-one I like that matchup. If the guys double team him he does a good job finding open shooters … He's really seeing the game at a high level right now.”


by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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