BROOKLYN — Kevin Durant‘s streak of 12 straight games of scoring 30 or more points came to an end on Friday, because his team is just too good. Durant scored 26 points on just 12 shots in the first three quarters, but sat the entire fourth of a 120-95 blowout of the Brooklyn Nets.
And maybe the thing that has gone under the radar — as Durant has been shooting the lights out and establishing himself as the MVP favorite — is that the Oklahoma City Thunder are the best team in basketball right now.
Friday’s rout — in which Brooklyn set an NBA record for fewest rebounds (17) in a game — was OKC’s 10th straight win. It’s been a hard earned streak that has included wins over Houston (on the road), Golden State, Portland, San Antonio (on the road), Miami (on the road) and Brooklyn (on the road), who had the league’s best January record entering Friday.
They’ve absorbed Russell Westbrook‘s latest setback and have played their best ball of the season. Their All-Star point guard has played just 25 of their 48 games and they hold the best record in the NBA at 38-10. They’re one of two teams that rank in the top five in both offensive and defensive efficiency.
You don’t do that behind the performance of just one guy. Yes, Durant has played better than anybody in the league this season. But the Thunder have proven to be much deeper than anyone could have predicted, with Perry Jones being the latest young reserve to make the most of an opportunity to play.
Throughout the night on Friday, the Nets tried to get the ball out of Durant’s hands, doubling him almost every time he caught the ball, as they did late in their Jan. 2 win in Oklahoma City. The plan mostly worked, but it just allowed one of Durant’s teammates to make a play.
“We knew what they were going to do in terms of doubling on the catch,” Durant said, “and we were moving the ball quick, and guys were knocking down shots.”
Durant tallied seven assists as five of his teammates scored in double figures. Serge Ibaka shot a perfect 12-for-12 from the field.
“Durant has been the guy getting the headlines,” Paul Pierce said, “but if you look across during the winning streak, they’ve had a number of guys step up.
“That’s just a great player making his other teammates better.”
So, in a game in which he shot a mere 10-for-12 and had Barclays Center buzzing from the opening minute, Durant’s streak came to an end. He’s fine with that.
“Man, I’m glad that’s over with,” he said. “I’d much rather take the win. That’s my type of game, just playing how the game is played. If they double, make the pass. Just play easy. I wasn’t trying to force anything. That streak was good while it lasted, but that was the least of my concerns.”
“If he cared about the streak,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks joked, “he should’ve made those two shots.”
Thunder record and efficiency
|10-game winning streak (since 1/16)||10||0||116.2||1||103.4||9||+12.9||1|
|Since Westbrook surgery (12/27)||15||5||110.0||4||101.2||7||+8.8||1|
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions