OKLAHOMA CITY — Before the season started, a poll was taken among NBA general managers on who they’d want to have the ball in their hands in the final seconds to win or tie a game. Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant finished first with almost 40 percent of the votes.
Sunday, with his team needing him to come through once again, Durant showed why he has earned that type of respect around the league as he led the Thunder to a 106-105 overtime victory over Washington at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City.
“You never feel like it’s over when you got a guy named Kevin Durant on the other side,” Wizards guard John Wall said.
With 3:19 left in the game, Thunder guard Russell Westbrook and Wizards center Nene were ejected from the game after receiving double technicals during a scuffle that saw Westbrook push Nene.
The altercation seemed to spur the Thunder (5-1) on. Without Nene in the lane, forward Serge Ibaka hit a turnaround jumper with 2:10 left to cut the Wizards’ lead to 92-86.
Guard Jeremy Lamb knocked down a 3-pointer and Ibaka threw down a monster dunk to cut the deficit to 92-91 with 1:10 remaining on clock.
With 18 seconds left, Washington (2-4) led 94-93. With the entire arena screaming defense, guard Bradley Beal cruised to the basket for an easy lay-up and gave the Wizards a three-point advantage.
Durant wasn’t phased. On the ensuing possession, he pulled up from the top of the key and drained a game-tying 3-pointer with forward Trevor Ariza in his face. The game went to overtime.
“I just tried to read the play,” Durant said. “I just needed a little bit of space to get it off. If he had pressured me, I would have tried to get to the rim for two. That was the plan. I seen a opening, and coach trusted me with the shot, no matter what. Make or miss. I was fortunate enough to get that one to go in.”