Kevin Durant Sparks the Oklahoma City Thunder in Many Ways

Sean StancillSenior Writer IJanuary 22, 2009

Though Jeff Green nailed the game-winner, it was the team's best player in Kevin Durant who actually caused the occurrence and who should be celebrated.

On the inbounds play, Durant was deployed as a decoy and sprinted to the right corner while motioning for the ball. Warriors' defenders Stephen Jackson and Jamal Crawford both fled in the direction of Durant and overpursued solely on him, allowing Jeff Green to execute a simple cut towards the ball.

From there, Green spun and nailed a turnaround jumpshot off the window of the glass, sending the Thunder to their ninth win of the season. I'm pretty sure Green didn't call "backboard!" either.

But back to Durant's stellar season. Durant is averaging 27.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, and close to 4 assists per game over his last 5 games and registered 27 points and 12 rebounds in the Thunder's win over Golden State.

He's scored 137 points over his last five contests—only rivaled by LeBron James, who has scored 140—and has scored 20 points on fewer than nine shots 16 times this season.

A key fact: Four of the Thunder's nine wins have come when Durant attempts 20 shots or more and Oklahoma City is also 5-2 when Durant logs 45 minutes or more this season. Despite his lack of strength and acute muscle definition, he's averaging 6.4 rebounds (which may look measly), but that figure is deceptive and naturally ordinary to the naked eye.

However the numbers actually speak for themselves: He quietly has grabbed 223 defensive rebounds this season which is 14 more than rebounding juggernaut Paul Millsap's and stalwart forward David West's total of 209 and 11 more boards than Andrew Bynum's sum.

He's also opened the door for rookie Russell Westbrook's recent onrush. Because of his reputation as a much-heralded scorer, teams extemporize their attention to Durant allowing players like Westbrook (who tied his career-high with 30 points against the Warriors), Earl Watson, and draft-mate Jeff Green to flourish.

Aftershocks: Rookie Kyle Weaver made the most of his minutes scoring six points in 18 minutes and played stifling defense on Stephen Jackson causing the temperamental forward to pick up his 11th technical foul of the season, trailing only Rasheed Wallace (13) for the league lead.

He also drew a charge on Warriors F Corey Maggete, forcing him to pick up his 3rd foul. He then responded by accounting for the Thunder's next five points—a three pointer from the left baseline and a crafty assist to a running Russell Westbrook in transition.

Weaver made both of his three-pointers and also pitched in three rebounds, two assists, and a steal.

He's played 32 minutes over his last two games and he's yet to miss a shot during that stretch.