Better get used to it, Thunder fans. This is your team now.
But you kind of knew it was going to be this way, right? You had to.
As expected, Kevin Durant was outstanding, and as expected the rest of the team did pretty much just enough.
Good thing it this one was against Utah because this stuff doesn’t work very well in the playoffs.
Worry about that later. For now enjoy Durant. He was that good. Forty-two points in the 101-98 victory against the Jazz, 22 made free throws, a franchise record, too.
Looks like he’ll need a few more of these kind of nights this season as the Thunder struggled to complement their All-Star forward in Salt Lake City.
No Russell Westbrook means a lot of wear on Durant (he played 39 minutes). He was up to it on Wednesday and he’ll probably be up to it on Friday when the Thunder play again – at Minnesota. The question is, will OKC find someone else to help out on a consistent basis or will Durant tire before Westbrook returns?
Westbrook isn’t due back for about four weeks, but the Thunder organization has been quiet on all things regarding his injured knee. It could be sooner. It could be later.
And Westbrook had to be on the minds of everyone Wednesday.
Oklahoma City had nine assists. Nine. Westbrook averaged more than seven per game a year ago. Serge Ibaka was 4-of-15 shooting. He shot 57 percent last year. The bench supplied 19 points, despite the fact Scott Brooks was liberal on playing time. Nick Collison, Perry Jones, Steven Adams, Derek Fisher and Jeremy Lamb all played real minutes.
Reggie Jackson was good at point guard, going 5-of-10 fro the field and making a pair of free throws late. He had 14 points and was active on defense with five steals, but it was Durant who did all the heavy lifting, especially in a fourth quarter where the Thunder made just four field goals and turned it over seven times.
That’s the kind of thing that happens when the ball doesn’t move and there’s no one who can help out.
That’s the kind of thing we can expect a lot more of.
Durant is certainly good enough to win games by himself. He’ll prove it more than a few times this year.