As the season approaches the halfway point, attention surrounding Kevin Durant's quest to shoot 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from 3-point range and 90 percent from the free-throw line on the season gradually is intensifying.
After going 7 for 12 from the field, 2 for 5 from 3-point range and 4 for 5 from the free-throw line in Wednesday night's 117-97 victory over the Denver Nuggets at Chesapeake Energy Arena, Durant is now shooting 52.5 percent from the field, 40.2 from 3-point range and 90.1 percent from the line this season.
Steve Nash (four times), Larry Bird (twice), Reggie Miller, Dirk Nowitzki and Enid's Mark Price are the only players to post 50-40-90 seasons.
Is Durant paying close attention to his quest?
“No, but I don't know if I can keep it up for the whole season,” Durant said before facing the Nuggets. “I've been shooting a lot of 3s lately. I've got to cut down on those. I've got to shoot better shots.”
Add up Durant's shooting percentages and it's 182.8.
“Anytime you're over a 170 shooter, that's outstanding,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “He's shooting at a level only a few guys in the history of the game have. He's done that all year. We hope he can continue that. He's so consistent, it's like Groundhog Day. Every day you see KD working on his game.”
Russell Westbrook had 36 points and shot 14 for 24 from the field on Monday night at Phoenix. In the first half against the Nuggets, he opened the game 9 for 13 from the field and finished with 25 points in the first half.
Over a span of slightly less than six quarters, Westbrook scored 61 points while shooting 23 for 37 (. 622) from the floor and 14 for 16 (. 875) from the free-throw line.
Westbrook's career-high in a half is 27, which set in the first half against the Los Angeles Lakers earlier this season on Dec. 7 at The Peake.
Westbrook finished with 32 points in 28 minutes of play and became just the third player in OKC/Seattle history in the last 25 years to finish with 30-plus points in 28 minutes or less — joining Sedale Threatt and Xavier McDaniel.
PERK AT THE POINT
Thunder center Kendrick Perkins finished with two points and shot 1 for 6 from the field.
That one shot drew a loud ovation after Perkins started at the top of the key, dribbled to the right side of the lane, spun left for three dribbles, pump faked and drained a fadeaway 8-foot turnaround jumper from the baseline over defender Kosta Koufos with 8:03 left in the third quarter.
Perkins also thought he was fouled on the play.
Asked if we could soon expect more of his point-guard moves, Perkins answered: “Nah, nah. Once every 30 games.”
Thunder reserve forward Nick Collison suffered a right ankle sprain in the first half and did not return. His status is day-to-day. … Durant now has seven technical fouls this season, third most in the league, one more than the mercurial Westbrook and two more than the surly Perkins. … In attendance was Washington Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez, winner of the 2012 Warren Spahn Award, which he will receive Thursday night in OKC. … The Thunder and Denver lead the NBA with 27 100-point games. … OKC entered the fourth quarter with just eight turnovers, then the reserves had six turnovers in the fourth quarter.
Denver coach George Karl on the Thunder's quick start: “(OKC) seemed to be the hungrier team from the very beginning. Their studs got into the game at a high level very early and scored a lot of points.”
BY JOHN ROHDE