Kevin Durant: Rockets 'Can't Check Me One-on-One, They Know That'

Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistApril 5, 2014

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) drives past Sacramento Kings forward Reggie Evans (30) and forward Rudy Gay (8) in the third quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Friday, March 28, 2014. Oklahoma City won 94-81. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Sue Ogrocki

Remember when Kevin Durant was the most modest player in the NBA? Those days are long gone.

He now sounds like an Most Valuable Player who knows good and well that he's actually the MVP:

Durant tied Michael Jordan's streak of 40 consecutive games scoring at least 25 points on Friday night, but his Oklahoma City Thunder still lost to the Houston Rockets, 111-107. It may have taken a team effort, but it was a team effort that frustrated KD into 7-of-19 shooting from the field.

That's not terrible, but it's subpar by Durant's standards. The league's leading scorer missed the mark fairly severely on a couple of occasions, and, by some accounts, looked to be pressing as he neared the end of the game stuck on 21 points. 

Teams are regularly forced into throwing a group effort at Durant, often consisting of double-teams and different defensive looks. That's what happens when you lead the league in scoring every season, and by now Durant is plenty used to it.

Sometimes it doesn't seem to matter. Sports Illustrated's Ben Golliver noted one such instance from January:

Thunder forward Kevin Durant hit a game-winning jumper over two defenders with 1.5 seconds remaining to lift Oklahoma City to a 111-109 home victory over Atlanta...This was a matter of the Hawks wanting anyone besides Durant to beat them, and Durant beating them anyway.

Durant can expect to see similar scenarios throughout the postseason. Even with Russell Westbrook garnering his share of defensive attention, teams will look to slow down Durant as much possible, ideally denying him the ball before he can touch it, or forcing him as far out on the perimeter as possible.

In the meantime, Durant's Thunder will look to secure their second seed in the Western Conference and potentially even gain ground on the first-seeded San Antonio Spurs, who currently hold a 3.5-game lead over the Thunder in the standings.

OKC next faces the upstart Phoenix Suns on Sunday.