With 4:14 left in the second quarter of Sunday night's 106-92 exhibition victory over Dallas inside American Airlines Center, Thunder All-Star Kevin Durant buried a step-back 15-footer while jumping off the wrong foot.
It was a shot straight from the playbook of 2011 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Dirk Nowitzki, who did not play and was watching from the Mavs' bench.
“He's the originator, so I stole that from him a little bit,” a smiling Durant said after Monday's practice. ‘I'm not as good as he is at it, but I've been working on it and it was the perfect time for me to do that with the defender playing the way he was playing. I'm glad I made it. I thought it was going to be an air-ball.”
After Durant made the shot, he glanced over at the Dallas bench while running back down court. Nowitzki and teammate Jason Kidd were shown smiling.
“I kind of gave a wink to Dirk,” Durant said. “He's such a great basket maker at that shot. He does it every type of play – going to the middle, baseline – so I'm just trying to perfect it a little bit like he has. It's going to take me a long time, but I'm working on it.”
Add the “Dirk step-back” to Durant's growing repertoire on offense.
“I'm not afraid to use it,” Durant said. “People might think that's an easy shot to make, but it's tough. You've got to get the right arch on the ball, and you've got to make a strong shot. I've been working on it all summer. Hopefully, I'll make more than I miss. Most of the times you shoot that shot it's not going to get blocked. That's a tough shot to perfect, man. You've got to give kudos to Dirk for making that shot his, I guess."
One rules point of emphasis this season surrounds the so-called “rip” move, where a shooter instigates contact with a defender by attempting to shoot the ball from underneath a defender's outstretched arms. This will be ruled a non-shooting foul unless the offensive player already is in his shooting motion.
Durant has excelled at the move the previous two seasons, resulting in several trips to the free-throw line.
Durant made 13 of 14 free throws against the Mavs, but none came because of the rip move. Durant finished with 21 points on just five field-goal attempts.
“I guess you guys (reporters) think I do the rip move every play to get to the free-throw line, which is false,” Durant said. “I was just trying to be aggressive to the rim (against Dallas). Coach (Scott Brooks) drew up some good plays for me to get into good positions to be aggressive. I got the whistle a little bit (Sunday) night. I've got to continue to put that pressure on the defense and try to get to the line and also try to find my teammates as well.”
Thunder forward Lazar Hayward, acquired last Tuesday from Minnesota, is day-to-day with a thumb injury. … OKC waived guard Anthony Goods from its training camp roster Monday. … Nowitzki and Kidd did not play Sunday, but are expected to start Tuesday night at 7 inside Chesapeake Energy Arena. … Mavs guard Jason Terry, who became ill before Monday's practice, will not make the trip. … The status of forward Brandan Wright, who missed Sunday's game due to illness, is unknown.
After Tuesday night's final exhibition game against Dallas, the Thunder opens the regular season on Christmas Day at 7 p.m. against the Orlando Magic inside Chesapeake Arena. OKC plays five games in seven days next week – Orlando, at Minnesota next Monday, at Memphis on Dec. 28, home against Dallas on Dec. 29 and home against Phoenix on New Year's Eve.
- John Rohde