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Thunder-Clippers: How Kevin Durant rallied from one of the roughest nights of his career

COMMENTARY — Kevin Durant was suffering through one of the worst shooting nights of his career until turning it on with 10 points in a 186-second span that may have saved Oklahoma City’s season.
by Berry Tramel Published: May 14, 2014

Kevin Durant was having the game of his life. The wrong way.

Couldn’t make a shot. Couldn’t find a flow. Couldn’t even help his squad all that much. In fact, the Thunder fell apart for the last time when Durant re-entered the game with 8:36 left.

Then as some faithless fans hit the Chesapeake Arena aisles and Samsungs all over America were clicked off, Durant’s light came on. It usually does.

Durant indeed had the game of his life. The good way. Ten points in 186 seconds. Two massive 3-pointers that supplied CPR to the Thunder season. A fast-break layup that somehow, some way cut the Clipper lead to two with 17 seconds left.

And you know how it ended. Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles. The Thunder beat the Clippers 105-104 in a game OKC had no business winning. Not when trailing by 13 points with four minutes left. Not when trailing by seven points with 46 seconds left. Not when the Durantula was an ant for most of the biggest game of the Thunder season.

“I never seen a game like this,” Durant said. “That just shows we just keep on, you can never keep us down. No matter what happens, we’re going to lay it on the line. We fought through it all. We persevered through it all. So much happened in the game, but we just stuck together as a team.”

Durant had made just three of 17 shots going into those final four minutes, and Chris Paul, the Clippers’ defensive whiz on Durant in Game 4, was not even needed to be a pest. Durant got shots. They just didn’t fall. His only buckets were a first-quarter drive, a fast-break 3-pointer in the second quarter and a muscle drive to open the third quarter. Durant got to the foul line with regularity, else this would have been as disastrous a game as he’s had since Seattle days.

But Durant is the NBA most valuable player for a reason. He almost always rises to the occasion. And this was an occasion. Swing game of a series tied 2-2. The difference between having to win in Los Angeles on Thursday night just to extend the season, or having the luxury of a mulligan with an if-necessary Game 7 back home.

Durant in those final four minutes never did find his mid-range shot. He swished a deep 3-pointer with 3:19 left to make it 101-93, then sank two foul shots off a drive to make it 101-95.

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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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