Here’s a scary thought for the rest of the NBA: Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks thinks Kevin Durant could be even better this season.
Durant scored 14 of his 21 points in the third quarter and Reggie Jackson had 29, leading the Thunder to a 103-99 exhibition victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday.
Durant’s surge helped Oklahoma City turn a 51-48 deficit into an 83-74 lead. The three-time NBA scoring champion then stayed on the bench for the fourth quarter of the finale of the NBA teams’ preseason tour of Europe.
”We demand a level of play and he is as coachable as any player I have seen in this league,” Brooks said. ”He is going to continue to get better. He has the talent, the skill, the body, the touch, the gifted game. But he also has an unmatched work ethic.”
Durant had 24 points in the Thunder’s 95-82 victory over Fenerbahce Ulker of Turkey on Saturday. But he started slowly against Philadelphia, going 3 for 10 from the field in the first half.
He then took over in the third, helping the Thunder outscore the Sixers 35-23 in the period.
”I like what he has been doing in preseason,” Brooks said.
The 76ers came back to tie it at 85 in the fourth, but were unable to build on a 106-104 win over Bilbao Basket on Sunday.
Tony Wroten had 20 points for Philadelphia, and Evan Turner had 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
”I am really proud of our guys,” first-year 76ers coach Brett Brown said.
”I see carryover (from training),” he added. ”That’s the Holy Grail.”
Manchester can hardly be called the hotbed of basketball in Britain – there were plenty of empty seats in the 21,000-capacity Phones 4u Arena – but a sign of the sport’s growing appeal in the country is the staging of a regular-season NBA game between the Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks in London in January.
And a slew of Premier League soccer stars, including Manchester United players Rio Ferdinand and David de Gea, were courtside to see the Thunder and Sixers step up their preparations for the new NBA season.
”It’s a great atmosphere here, the fans are unbelievable,” said Durant, who won gold with the U.S. team at last year’s London Olympics. ”I think they deserve basketball, especially regular-season basketball. I’m sure we’ll see that in the future.”
Like the Thunder, Philadelphia has been on a weeklong tour of Europe as the NBA looks to promote the sport around the world. It beat Bilbao Basket 106-104 in Spain on Sunday.