The NBA’s Best Duo Plays For The Thunder
There’s no better duo right now in the postseason than Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and that includes a certain pairing in Miami. They scored 22 of the Thunder’s 32 points in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Lakers team in the process, in a gigantic 103-100 win over the Lakers to take a commanding 3-1 series lead in the Western Conference semifinals.
Let’s be frank about this: there’s no way Los Angeles is winning three straight games over Oklahoma City. Durant’s stone-cold three pointer from the top of the key with no time on the shot clock and 13.7 left in the fourth quarter proved that he’s now the NBA’s best late game finisher. Westbrook slipped near halfcourt as the game approached halftime and there were doubts if he would play the second half, but he played another sensational game with 37 points and only one turnover.
“I was a little stiff, but we needed this win,” Westbrook said. Sounds like a winner to me.
Durant took over that end-of-game sequence, but also had 31 points and 13 rebounds. The league’s top pair combined for an other-worldly 68 points on 25-44 shooting. The last duo to score at east 30 each in a playoff game in LA? Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in the 1991 NBA Finals, according to Elias. And they only combined for 32. Still not convinced Durant and Westbrook is the league’s top pair? On the other side of the ledger, Kobe Bryant shot 12-28 and Andrew Bynum was the only Laker to shoot over 50 percent from the field.
Down 91-78 with eight minutes left in the fourth quarter, it looked like the Lakers would easily tie the series at two heading back east for game five. Durant and Westbrook had other ideas. Oklahoma City ended the game on a 22-8 run, punctuated by that icy Durant triple that Bryant could not match on the other side of the court.
Los Angeles learned late Saturday night that no lead is safe with Durant and Westbrook on top of their game’s, both of them elite scorers down the stretch of any contest. “We know no game is over,” Durant said. “We’ve witnessed that before. We play hard every possession and live with the results, and we came out on top.”
The Lakers have to be incredibly dismayed to let a lead like that slip through their fingers at home. “It comes down to those guys scoring 32 points in the fourth quarter, and I thought they did that very easily,” Lakers coach Mike Brown said. “That’s the most disappointing thing.”
Thunder coach Scott Brooks could not believe his team came back and won that game, and he’s seen OKC all season. “I wish I could sit up here and say how that happened,” Brooks said. “It just happened.”
As long as Durant and Westbrook are on the same team and playing in the fourth quarter, good things are going to happen for the Oklahoma City Thunder. As long as Durant and Westbrook are on the same team and playing in the fourth quarter, there will be no duo in the league better than those two. Before two long, the two will end up having championship rings on their fingers.