There was magic in the air Friday night as the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Golden State Warriors 127-121. Both teams started out hot, but no one was more on fire than Kevin Durant who scored a career-high 54 points on 19-of-28 shooting. At a point in fourth quarter, Durant scored 11 points in under two minutes. After the first quarter KD had tallied up 15 points, so you figured it would be a special night for him, but I don’t know if anyone saw him going off the way he did. His performance put him over 48 points on three separate occasions in the last two weeks. Those numbers alone prove that Durant is more than capable of carrying his team on his back even against the NBA‘s elite teams. Durant led the Thunder over the Houston Rockets the previous night as well.
The month of January has belonged to KD. He is averaging more than 35 points per game and carried OKC to a winning record without Russell Westbrook. Just a week ago, it seemed like the world was ready to bet against Durant’s leadership ability. There was a load of criticism coming from all directions, but his recent performances should have those haters backing down in fear. The haters seemed to finally get to Durant and he has used their negativity as fuel en route to scorching opponents over the past few weeks. He is becoming more confident as a leader with each passing game. Just when you may believe he is ready to crumble under the pressure, he bounces back even stronger.
As a fan of Durant, I hope the doubt continues to pile up so he can have more of a reason to take matters into his own hands. I would not be surprised if he puts up a 60-point performance before Westbrook returns. Let us not forget KD’s teammates; they deserve a load of credit. They have collectively done a great job of overcoming adversity. Serge Ibaka put up 21 points with six rebounds, and Reggie Jackson added 14 to help OKC secure a victory Friday night. If they can continue to be consistent, Westbrook may be able to take a few more games off as opposed to rushing back to a struggling team. There’s always additional pressure on a player to come back sooner when the team isn’t playing well.
This team has jumped some big hurdles over a short period, and they will be extremely dangerous when they are at full strength. The world thought the Thunder were vulnerable, but a beast was awakened instead. Now no one is safe. I do not know if Durant will duplicate his performance from Friday night, but expect the dominance to continue as the month of January winds down. The Thunder are now 30-10 on the season and have won three of their last four games. They have a chance to improve on Sunday at home game against the Sacramento Kings. I’m sure everyone will be waiting to see what Durant does for an encore.