NBA takeaways: Durant hit the shot of his life … but it wasn’t a winner
There’s that moment when you realize just how special it is to watch an all-time great player in his prime make an all-time great play in an instant playoffs classic. It warms the heart a little, doesn’t it?
Kevin Durant made the shot of his career, even if it came in a loss that could prove pivotal in a series headed back to Memphis.
And that was about it in terms of entertainment for the remainder of the night — unless of course you’re a Clippers fan.
GRIZZLIES 111, THUNDER 105, OT
Series tied 1-1
Takeaway: Film of that Durant four-point play will be shown when he’s entered into the Hall of Fame one day. However, the highlight won’t include that it wasn’t enough to hold off the sludge that is the Grizzlies. Zach Randolph’s big plays are never as thunderous as KD’s or Russell Westbrook’s, but the big man rumbled to 25 points as Memphis outscored Oklahoma City 56-36 in the paint. One team pounds. One team runs and pulls up. But when the Thunder’s jump shots aren’t falling — they were 9-of-30 from three-point range — the consistent drubbing inside by Memphis is too tough to overcome. It’s absolutely fine to rely on hero ball when that hero is one of history’s greatest scorers, so long as you realize that style has cracks.
Superstar review: History isn’t so kind to high-volume shooting point guards in the postseason. When you scroll down the list of championship teams, only Tony Parker and Chauncey Billups come to mind as score-first types. The Thunder should remember this before allowing Westbrook to take another 28 shots in a game, as he did in Game 2.
Looking ahead: Game 3 at Memphis, Thursday 8 p.m. EST
The Thunder couldn’t hold home-court advantage, and now they’re in a tough spot heading to Memphis, where the Grizzlies have won 14 in a row. It should be another close one in Game 3, and it could come down to whether it’s Durant or Mike Miller who hits the big shot. Then again, it could be a Z-Bo offensive rebound and putback.
CLIPPERS 138, WARRIORS 98
Series tied 1-1
Takeaway: The Clippers flat-out destroyed the Warriors at every level, wiping away a Game 1 loss that now looks more like a fluke than anything. With Blake Griffin staying out of foul trouble this time, the Clippers were fully loaded and each weapon inflicted pain at historic levels. Los Angeles earned its most lopsided victory in franchise history by trashing the Warriors at nearly every spot on the floor. The Clippers embarrassed the Warriors’ defense (shooting 56 percent), they blanketed their perimeter (allowing just 4-of-19 on three-pointers) and they abused every mistake (forcing 26 turnovers for 27 points). Los Angeles flexed its depth too, responding with 58 bench points on Monday after being outscored 32-26 in Game 1.
Star review: Blake Griffin looked like he was playing against a JV team. And no, Andrew Bogut isn’t making up for that 40-point difference. Griffin looked like he was playing on an eight-foot rim, but he also showcased that mid-range touch that made him so dangerous all regular season. He finished with 35 points on 13-of-17 shooting.
Looking ahead: Game 3 at Golden State, Thursday at 10:30 p.m. EST
The Clippers continued to focus on taking away Stephen Curry, double-teaming him to take away clear looks even if it meant yielding to open cuts and easy baskets by David Lee. Curry still got away with 24 points on 53-percent shooting with eight assists, but the superstar needs to go video-game mode if the Warriors are going to overcome the talent gap in the frontcourt. The Warriors coaching staff needs to find ways to pop Curry open early. He turns into a three-point-shooting Popeye in front of that home crowd, so that should help.
Follow Jimmy Spencer on Twitter: @JimmySpencerNBA