In a great night of sports on a cold Saturday, Kevin Durant was busy putting up 48 points on the Minnesota Timberwolves in a 115-111 win for the Oklahoma City Thunder. The win saved OKC from losing three straight games. Durant got the team back on the winning track when he hit the go-ahead bucket with four seconds remaining in the game. He also put up 23 points in the final quarter.
As much damage as Durant did, the Timberwolves really hurt themselves in this one. Kevin Love went to the line to shoot three free throws after Durant hit that big shot, and uncharacteristically miss the first two, forcing him to purposely miss the final attempt. Well, he wound up missing the rim completely. So, it is safe to say that OKC would have been in trouble if it were not for Durant’s monster game.
The truth is that the Thunder has struggled all around since Russell Westbrook had his third surgery within nine months. It is no surprise that they are having trouble adjusting because Westbrook is a big piece to their puzzle. Any team would have trouble if they lost a player of that caliber.
Durant was honored as the NBA‘s December Player of the Month earlier in the week. It will not be the last time he earns those accolades as he continues to play the best ball of his career thus far. He will need some more help if OKC is going to be successful without Westbrook.
It is tough to say that Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb have been struggling because even when they only score 9-10 points, it is still a big contribution especially when you have a few other role players scoring 6-8 points in limited minutes. I guess everyone is expecting these guys to go out there every night and put up 15 to 20 points. It is just not that easy for these young players during their first year of accumulating solid minutes on the court.
The one player who does need to step it up a bit is Serge Ibaka. If he can put up 15-20 points instead of Jackson and Lamb, then OKC will be able to put it in cruise control even without Westbrook. Regardless, they could always fall back on KD. Everything falls behind him, and that is why this team will always have a fighting chance. When your leader is constantly in the MVP conversation, you are in good hands.