The Norman Transcript

National Sports

May 7, 2013

King of clutch

OKLAHOMA CITY — Pondering Kevin Durant’s latest big-time shot on the playoff stage, Lionel Hollins started listing a who’s who of NBA greats from days gone by: Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, Sam Jones, John Havlicek, George Mikan, Bob Pettit.

What do they all have in common?

“If you just go through the history, all the great players made big shots,” said Hollins, the Memphis Grizzlies coach. “That’s why they’re great, not just good.”

“If you’re not a clutch player, you’re not a great player,” he added. “You cannot be a great player and not be a clutch player.”

Durant is trying to blaze his own path to greatness with his own successes in the closer’s role for the Oklahoma City Thunder. His jumper with 11.1 seconds left in Oklahoma City’s Game 1 victory against Memphis on Sunday marked the third time already this postseason that the All-Star has produced the go-ahead basket late in a close game.

He also did it with a 3-pointer in the final minute of Game 3 against Houston in the first round and another 3 with just under 21⁄2 minutes to go in Game 2 against the Rockets.

“That’s how you build a legacy. That’s how you become a part of the history of this game is by making those great shots,” said teammate Derek Fisher, a five-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers who has his made his own share of clutch postseason shots and been around for Kobe Bryant making plenty, too. “And Kevin, only five or six years into the league, is becoming one of those guys that we’ll remember forever. It’s always great to be on the same team with those kind of guys.”

The Grizzlies led 90-87 entering the final minute of Game 1 after Marc Gasol’s hook shot over Kendrick Perkins. Durant hit jumpers on Oklahoma City’s next two possessions, and the Grizzlies — who traded away their go-to guy, Rudy Gay, earlier this season — couldn’t match him in crunch time.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
National Sports
  • Italy’s Nibali cruises to Tour victory

    PARIS — Vincenzo Nibali put his lungs and legs to work one last time, marching up to the winner’s podium of the Tour de France and sighing deeply before the Italian anthem echoed over the Champs-Elysees....

    July 28, 2014

  • Jeff Gordon wins at Indianapolis for record fifth time

    INDIANAPOLIS — With a tinge of gray hair at his temples, his hat on backward and his two young children by his side, Jeff Gordon celebrated as if he was 23 years old again. Gordon won a NASCAR-record fifth Brickyard 400 on Sunday, eight ...

    July 28, 2014

  • Scott says he will coach Lakers

    LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Lakers have waited nearly three months to hire a new coach, and they’re apparently making Byron Scott wait a few more days....

    July 28, 2014

  • BoSox snap Rays’ streak

    ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — David Ortiz hit a three-run homer, and the Boston Red Sox beat Tampa Bay 3-2 Sunday to end a five-game losing streak and stop the Rays’ longest winning streak in 10 years at nine games....

    July 28, 2014

  • The Big Hurt and Joe Torre headline Hall of Fame class

    COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — Frank Thomas choked back tears, Joe Torre apologized for leaving people out of his speech and Tony La Russa said he felt uneasy. Being enshrined in the Hall of Fame can have those effects, even on the greats....

    July 28, 2014

  • Telling The Boss, sorry

    COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — Before he answered a question at the press conference following the Baseball Hall of Fame’s induction ceremony on Sunday, Joe Torre wanted to address someone he regrettably omitted from his speech....

    July 28, 2014

  • Wainwright bounces back to beat Cubs

    CHICAGO — When St. Louis Cardinals Mike Matheny visited the mound with two out and two on in the seventh inning on Sunday, he had no idea whether he was going to replace starter Adam Wainwright....

    July 28, 2014

  • A’s rout Rangers

    ARLINGTON, Texas — John Jaso drove in three runs, helping Scott Kazmir and the Oakland Athletics beat the Texas Rangers 9-3 Sunday night....

    July 28, 2014

  • Clark rallies in Montreal

    MONTREAL — Tim Clark rallied to win the Canadian Open on Sunday, birdieing five of the last eight holes for a one-stroke victory over Jim Furyk....

    July 28, 2014

  • Isner wins another Atlanta final

    ATLANTA — Top-seeded John Isner overpowered Dudi Sela on Sunday to successfully defend his Atlanta Open title, blowing serve after serve past the 5-foot-9 Israeli player in a 6-3, 6-4 victory....

    July 28, 2014