Kevin Durant? He's kinda good.
The Oklahoma City Thunder star scored a career-high 54 points, helping propel his team to a 127-121 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Friday, Jan. 17.
Kevin Durant scores a career-high 54 points as the Thunder down the Warriors 127-121! pic.twitter.com/tmaSicVddc— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 18, 2014
Durant was the game's leading scorer by a wide margin. He had one of those outings where he was hitting anything and everything, especially in the fourth quarter. Oklahoma City's offensive possessions by that point consisted almost exclusively of getting him the ball behind the arc and letting him fire.
By halftime, it looked as if Durant was going to do something special. He had 29 points on 11-of-14 shooting, including 2-of-2 from downtown, per NBA on ESPN:
Kevin Durant's career high is 52. He has 29 at halftime against the Warriors. pic.twitter.com/emd3rvE6aF— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) January 18, 2014
He remained just as scintillating in the second half, as his final shot chart shows:
Kevin Durant's shot chart from tonight is a thing of beauty pic.twitter.com/65JFZxEmtr— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 18, 2014
This was the sixth game in a row where he's finished with 30-plus points, per the Daily Thunder's Royce Young:
Kevin Durant with at least 30 points in six straight games. His 23rd game of the season with at least 30.— Royce Young (@royceyoung) January 18, 2014
Despite a near-legendary performance, Durant remained modest after the game, per SportsCenter:
Kevin Durant with the understatement of the year after his 54 point game. pic.twitter.com/ZG5xgP8OiS— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 18, 2014
Serge Ibaka was OKC's second-leading scorer, with 21 points on an impressive 8-of-11 shooting. He added eight rebounds in what was a solid all-around performance. Reggie Jackson had another productive game, scoring 14 points and dishing out six assists. While he can't be a like-for-like substitute for Russell Westbrook, he's doing well in the star's absence.
It was a mixed bag for Stephen Curry.
He had 37 points and went 6-of-10 from downtown—leading the Warriors in scoring—and added 11 assists. Curry now has five games with 30-plus points and 10-plus assists this season, which is the best in the league, per ESPN Stats & Info:
Stephen Curry has his 5th 30-point, 10-assist game of the season (leads the NBA)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 18, 2014
That was the positive. The negative was that he turned the ball over seven times. Although Curry can sometimes be a bit liberal with the giveaways, seven is too many against a quality team like the Thunder.
Curry almost had to do it all for the Warriors on Friday night, as he got little support from his teammates not named Klay Thompson.
Thompson added 26 points and went 6-of-9 from three, but the drop-off in production was pretty steep after that. Andrew Bogut had eight points and five rebounds. David Lee finished with 13 and nine.
Andre Iguodala was a major disappointment, on both the offensive and defensive ends. Although he wasn't lined up against Durant for the entire game, it was often the Durantula who got the upper hand when he was:
Durant had 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting when guarded by Iguodala in 1st half. Durant was 2-of-7 in their other meeting this season— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 18, 2014
What's worse is that Iguodala did little offensively, scoring just two points on 1-of-8 shooting.
At least he wasn't as bad as Harrison Barnes, who failed to register a single point, rebound, assist, steal or block in 19 minutes on the court. SB Nation NBA reached for the low-hanging fruit:
hm. Harrison Barnes? more like Harrison Boo-rnes— SB Nation NBA (@SBNationNBA) January 18, 2014
As the final score would attest, both teams left their defense in the locker room. The Warriors shot 52.4 percent from the field (43-of-82) as a team, but they were one-upped by the Thunder, who shot 58.0 percent from the floor (47-of-81).
The Thunder never looked like they would lose this game, despite the score being somewhat close. The Warriors made it competitive in the third quarter, when a dunk from Iguodala put them down three, 82-79, with 6:24 to go.
However, Oklahoma City always made sure to keep its distance from Golden State, which was easy when Durant was having the kind of night he did.
Draymond Green was often defending Durant, which presented a major mismatch, one that the Thunder successfully exploited.
Key Player Grades
Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder: A+
What more needs to be said about Kevin Durant?
The only knock on his performance is that maybe he could've gone for 60, as Grantland's Bill Simmons pointed out. That would've turned what was a fantastic night into an all-time one:
I don't agree w/ what just happened. If you have a chance to go for 60, that's an iconic number. Doesn't make you a bad sport to go for it.— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) January 18, 2014
That's still the best Durant game i've ever seen, but that could have been an all-timer. You don't see many in-the-flow 60-pt games. If any.— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) January 18, 2014
Durant was masterful on Friday. It would not have surprised anyone if he reached 60.
Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors: A-
Stephen Curry did his best to win this game on his own. He and Durant were having a great game of H-O-R-S-E going, only he wasn't able to keep up as the game went on.
The seven turnovers are a bit of a downer, but Curry was forced to do so much for the Warriors offense that he was likely pressing a bit. His teammates weren't helping on the defensive end, and that just increased the load that was on Curry's shoulders offensively.
Shooting 11-of-18 from the field is pretty good against what is one of the best defensive teams in the league.
Andre Iguodala, Golden State Warriors: D
At least Andre Iguodala had the decency to be consistently bad on both ends of the court.
While he was brought on for his defense, there's no excuse for missing seven of eight shots and only scoring two points. The veteran guard has to do more if the Warriors are going to take the next step this season.
Plus, Iguodala wasn't much of a presence on defense. Maybe if Mark Jackson had switched him with Draymond Green in order to get him on Durant more, Oklahoma City wouldn't have pulled away late. But when Iguodala had the task, the results weren't all that good to begin with.
The Oklahoma City Thunder get a much-deserved day off before welcoming in the Sacramento Kings on Sunday. The Golden State Warriors finish up their two-game road trip in New Orleans on Saturday with a matchup against the Pelicans.