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Thunder Hold Off Kings

Kevin Durant had a self-proclaimed “terrible” night, but he came up big to save the Thunder from a disastrous loss.

Durant hit two clutch jumpers to seal the Thunder’s 98-95 victory over the Sacramento Kings.  The first one brought the Thunder within two with 1 minute, 17 seconds remaining and the other one put them ahead 96-95 with 23 seconds left.

However, he had a bad triple-double with 20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 turnovers. He seemed out of sorts from tipoff, missing his first free throw and struggled getting into rhythm. Late in the fourth quarter at one point, he’d taken only one more shot than he had turnovers.

Durant, though, has been through these moments before, and like any great clutch-time player, he found a way to put the misses and the turnovers behind him just long enough to hit the shots that are most important. It’s one of Durant’s greatest improvements, something he’s mentally worked on for years, not letting the previous play affect the plays ahead.

Against the Hawks and Heat, Durant was brilliant in both games, but missed key shots late as the Thunder lost tight games. On Sunday, he hit them despite playing one of the most forgettable games of his career.

The Thunder blew a 17-point lead to trail by seven with three minutes remaining. It wasn’t that the Kings did something overly impressive to spark a comeback. It was mostly the Thunder playing sloppy entirely on their own.

Had Durant not been clutch on this night, the Thunder were headed for a dreadful loss, the kind that draws a spotlight, and not the positive kind. They would’ve been 11-9 with a second three-game losing streak.

But because the Thunder are at an unexpected 11-8 with tough questions being asked, it feels more like an escape then a good comeback win

The Kings came in losers of four out of their past five, while facing the tougher end of a road back-to-back, having played in Houston on Saturday night. The Thunder entered rested, having spent the past two days working on things in the comfort of its practice facility.

But both teams looked out of sync throughout what was a sloppy win for OKC.

But one positive out of this game for the Thunder is Russell Westbrook had his third triple-double of the year: 19-11-10.  That’s his 22nd of his career passing Kobe Bryant (21). Only two active players have more: Rajon Rondo (26) and LeBron James (39).  Pretty good company.

 

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