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Thunder-Rockets: For Kevin Durant, a different kind of clutch

COMMENTARY — The Oklahoma City superstar accustomed to delivering big shots made some many plays down the stretch, his big shot got lost in the shuffle. The Thunder needed everything it got from Kevin Durant to hold off Houston.
by Berry Tramel Published: April 24, 2013

“We changed up, made a little adjustment in their zone,” Scotty Brooks said of the final few possessions. “Had Kevin handle the ball up top. He's really improved his playmaking. He's not a selfish player. He enjoys passing the ball. His trust tonight was critical. They made key shots for him at the end.”

What a better way to play than the one-on-one mentality that too often creeps into not only the Thunder at crunch time, but any NBA superstar.

“He has been doing that all year,” Nick Collison said. “With his size, he has that ability and the attention that he draws, he is going to be in situations where he is going to need to make plays for other guys. He did it enough for us tonight that we were able to get a win tonight.”

A nice win, too. After the teams slogged through 2 1/2 quarters with neither leading by five points and the sides getting chippy, the Thunder finally took control, with an 11-point lead in the third quarter and then a 15-point lead in the fourth.

But back came the Rockets on a 16-0 run to take a 95-91 lead with 3:27 left.

Let this series get to 1-1, and Houston has all kinds of hope. Now, not so much, even though the Rockets scrapped.

Smallish point guard Patrick Beverley drew the ire of Westbrook by trying to steal the ball while Westbrook called timeout, causing a collision that turned Westbrook gimpy for a minute or two. Westbrook responded by playing alternately explosive and out of control.

Later, Perkins delivered an elbow to the gut of Harden, clearing space for an easy basket and leaving the Rocket star slumped over, out of breath.

The series is much more interesting than it looked after that Game 1 rout. But it seems surely headed for the same final result, thanks to the heroics of Durant.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

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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