Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

May 9, 2013

Durant shouldering heavy load for Oklahoma City

OKLAHOMA CITY — Kevin Durant insists he can carry as much as Thunder coach Scott Brooks wants to heap onto his shoulders with Russell Westbrook injured and out for the rest of the playoffs.

The Memphis Grizzlies are testing that theory.

The Grizzlies were able to largely neutralize Durant's supporting cast in Game 2, pulling out a 99-93 victory Tuesday night to tie the Western Conference semifinals at 1-1.

Durant nearly did it all for Oklahoma City. He led the team in scoring (36), rebounds (11) and assists (nine) and also blocked a shot and came up with one of the Thunder's three steals. What he couldn't do was finish off a superb performance after Memphis went ahead in the final 2 minutes.

Instead of calling on his teammates to pitch in, Durant is demanding even more of himself.

"I always can do more," Durant said. "I've got to put my teammates in better positions to score. I turned the ball over some where I thought I could have made better passes, shot some shots I should have drove or should have got closer. But I always can be better."

How much more the Thunder can lean on one man remains to be seen.

Oklahoma City made it through the first round without Westbrook, getting 25 points from sixth man Kevin Martin to win at Houston in Game 6. But after scoring 25 again in the opener against Memphis, Martin made just 2 of 11 shots and had six points as the Thunder handed over home-court advantage to the Grizzlies.

Game 3 is Saturday in Memphis.

"We know what Kevin Durant is going to do. Our whole thing was just trying to come here and stop Martin," said Tony Allen, who had five of Memphis' 13 steals. "We keyed in on Martin (Monday) in the film, but Derek Fisher got it going. So when we go back to the drawing board, we're going to have to scout Derek Fisher more and see how he was killing us."

Fisher, the 38-year-old veteran who asked out of his contract with Dallas so he could be with his family before signing as a free agent with Oklahoma City, was about the only Thunder role player who came up big in Game 2. He scored 19 points — with 14 in the first half and a 3-pointer at the final buzzer — while the rest of Durant's crew went 13 for 40 from the field.

Serge Ibaka had his third straight off game, although he improved on his dreadful 1-for-10 shooting in Game 1 to make 5 of 12 shots and score 11 points. Nick Collison, often the team's most dependable reserve, had this unsightly stat line: no points, no rebounds, four turnovers and six fouls.

Perhaps even more than the scoring load, Durant needs more help on the boards. Memphis had a 43-35 rebounding edge in Game 2, turning 16 offensive rebounds into 23 second-chance points.

"We have to rebound the basketball. This is a rebounding series, and they understand that. We've talked about it enough," Brooks said. "But you have to be able to do it every possession."

Brooks' counterpart, Lionel Hollins, wouldn't take much credit for scheming to marginalize Martin's impact. Just as he said Ibaka simply missed nine open jump shots in Game 1, Hollins said Wednesday that Martin "had some wide-open shots he didn't make."

And it's not as if the Grizzlies are willing to let Durant do whatever he wants as long as no one else hurts them.

"You still can't let him go and get 50," Hollins said. "You want him to take a lot of shots. If he had 36 (Tuesday) night and he was 11 for 15 and had a few more free throws, it's trouble. But we don't want to put him on the free throw line and we want to make him work and take a lot of shots.

"It takes a lot of energy to be an offensive player, regardless of what people think, especially when you have the ball in your hand the majority of the time. We want to work him on that end. We want to work him on the defensive end."

During the three-day break between games, Durant said he planned to look at film of his playmaking abilities for his teammates and "see how I can get some of these guys going."

"I'm a leader. Guys are looking at me. So, if I hang my head, they're going to hang their head and that's never good," Durant said. "My individual game really doesn't matter if we lose."

___

AP freelance writer Clay Bailey contributed to this report from Memphis, Tenn.

1
Text Only
Sports
  • James_Ethan-(12)-vs.#2CC63C.jpg Back on the line

    RiverHawks’ Ethan James returns to the line healthy and ready for 2014

    RiverHawks offensive lineman Ethan James will enter the 2014 season healthy – something the team, and James, were not in 2013.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • Sooners shifting several positions

    Experience comes from encountering the same things in the same ways over and over again. Oklahoma’s Geneo Grissom and Julian Wilson have that at defensive end and nickleback in bunches.
    However, both will be seeing new things when practice begins. Grissom is moving to outside linebacker. Wilson will be getting a look at cornerback as his senior season begins

    July 25, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Better police needed for college teams enticed to cheat

    The NCAA once cracked down on colleges that went too far luring top prospects, then it targeted teams that lathered players with special treatment. That was until the NCAA's get-tough approach backfired, rendering it ineffective and creating an opportunity for those who want to play dirty.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • BobBowlsby.jpg Media Week: Change is coming

    Changes are coming to college athletics.
    That was the theme of the state of the conference speech by Big 12 Conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby on the first day of Big 12 Football Media Days.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Peterson.jpg Cowboy quandary: OSU defense trying to replace seven starters

    A year after the best defensive team in the Mike Gundy era, the questions now surround how those few returning starters and second-year defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer can maintain that high level of efficiency.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Really one true champion?

    I decided to spare the colleagues in front of me – and myself from making a scene – by holding back flipping my table at the Big 12 Conference Football Media Days in Dallas.
    I had become exhausted by the constant use and misrepresentation by the Big 12 with their moniker of “One True Champion.” If they are going to live with the slogan, then they need to abide by that slogan.
    Perhaps its a simple case that they are keeping constant with the poor math of the 10-team Big 12 Conference.

    July 23, 2014

  • Hill expected to be used in multiple facets

    The picture became a little clearer recently of how Big 12 Conference Newcomer of the Year Tyreek Hill will be utilized in the Oklahoma State offense.
    And the picture is rather wide.

    July 23, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Expectations too high for a rehabbing Woods

    Tiger Woods finished near bottom last weekend at Royal Liverpool, drawing out his drought of major tournament wins. Despite the disappointing showing, Woods' return to form remains a matter of when, not if.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • shock pic.jpg Time to rest

    Shock beats San Antonio before entering All-Star break

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • McIlroy leads, Tiger Woods in contention after 1st day at British Open

    July 18, 2014

Poll

Do you believe school administrators and college presidents in Oklahoma are paid too much?

Strongly agree.
Somewhat agree.
Somewhat disagree.
Strongly disagree.
Undecided.
     View Results
Press Sports Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground
Stocks