Sometimes even the best teams need a spark from their superstars to pull out a win, and that's exactly what the Oklahoma City Thunder needed from Kevin Durant going against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Things weren't looking good for the Thunder heading into the fourth quarter of their game against the Timberwolves, down 87-77 with just 12 minutes remaining. At one point, they were down 13 points, but Durant refused to let the team down, scoring 23 points in the fourth quarter, including a clutch game-winner with just four seconds remaining to give his team their 26th win of the season.
Durant finished with a season-high 48 points to go along with seven rebounds, seven assists, two steals and a block. He shot 16-of-32 from the field and 12-of-13 from the free-throw line, but he was even more impressive in the fourth. He made seven of his 11 shots in the final 12 minutes, including four three-pointers.
One of his signature plays in the game came in the first half thanks to a nice steal followed by a big slam dunk.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, his 48 points and 23 in the fourth quarter were the most by any NBA player up to this point in the season:
Kevin Durant had 48 points tonight, including 23 in 4th quarter (both are most by any NBA player this season)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 5, 2014
No other player for the Thunder scored more than 13 points in the game or took more than 13 shots on the night. His big game shadowed the terrific performances of both Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Love for the Timberwolves, as they finished with 31 and 30 points, respectively. All five starters for Minnesota scored at least 13 points, but it wasn't enough.
In 33 games now this season, Durant is averaging 29.2 points per game while shooting an impressive 49.7 percent from the field. Over the past five games, he's shooting 52.6 percent while scoring 35.2 points per game. He's the league's top scorer and is looking for his fourth scoring title at only 25 years old.
At 26-7, the Thunder are currently the top team in the Western Conference, just a half game ahead of the San Antonio Spurs. Thanks to another great season from Durant along with the return of Russell Westbrook, the Thunder appear to be in great shape to attempt to make another run at the NBA Finals this year.
Next, the Thunder will be taking on the struggling Boston Celtics at home in an attempt to take win No. 27. Durant appears to be on fire right now, and it's hard to see them losing in the near future as they look forward to an easier stretch of games against teams like the Celtics, Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets and Milwaukee Bucks.