That gave Durant a game-high eight assists to go with his 36 points and six rebounds and 13-of-20 shooting night. He's had a bunch of magic moments over seven playoff series the last three years. But this was his signature game. The game that will make the pundits wonder if he's the game's best player, since he appears to have the clutch gene that's missing from LeBron.
Durant didn't even make a basket in the first quarter and was just 2-of-4 at halftime. Primo Spur defenders Leonard and Stephen Jackson were hounding Durant into being a passer. But the Thunder led 55-43 because Ibaka and Perkins had combined for 27 points and two misses.
“I wasn't freezing him out, trust me,” said Scotty Brooks. “I'd like him to shoot more than four times. But with Kevin, it's not about shots. It's about playing very consistent with some toughness and making plays for his team.”
Brooks said he was most pleased with Durant's eight assists in Game 4. OK. But in the fourth quarter, when the Thunder was on its heels, it didn't need a passer. It needed a maker. Durant seemed to ride to the rescue.
“It didn't seem like that,” said Popovich. “That was a fact. I was there. I saw it.”
There was no game-winner, no buzzer-beater necessary, but considering the circumstances, this was Durant's finest hour.
Taking over a game the Thunder absolutely had to have. Sending the Spurs, who just three days ago looked unbeatable, to their second straight defeat.
It's a three-game series, and the Spurs have homecourt advantage. But the Thunder has Durant.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.