OKLAHOMA CITY — Last year Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant introduced a campaign that stated “KD is not nice.” For much of this season, that has not resurfaced, despite the audacious numbers he has been putting up.
However, facing nemesis Portland, Durant needed that attitude down the stretch in order to lead the Thunder to a 105-97 victory over the Trailblazers Tuesday at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Durant scored 46 points on 17-for-25 shooting, including hitting six of his seven 3-point attempts as he posted his eighth straight game with at least 30 points.
“He is the best player in the world right now,” Portland’s Nicolas Batum said of Durant. “What can you say about him. He is the MVP. He is the MVP. I have been six years in the league, and I’ve never seen something like that.”
Despite terrible free throw shooting in the fourth quarter, the Thunder only trailed 95-92 with three minutes left in the game. But Durant quickly changed that when he hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key. As he headed downcourt, he was barking at the Blazers bench and thumping his chest.
Durant had received a technical foul minutes before and it may have been the kickstart he needed.
“It was a physical basketball game,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “Neither team was getting to the free throw line or getting fouls called. Kevin is an aggressive player. I think that got our crowd fired up.”
After forcing the Blazers into a turnover, guard Reggie Jackson hit a teardrop in the lane to put Oklahoma City up by two. After another empty Portland possession, it was center Kendrick Perkins hitting a baseline jumper to give the Thunder a 99-95 advantage.
Yet, it was Durant who shut the game down when he drained back-to-back 3-pointers in Batum’s face to put the contest away. He finished with 14 in the period.