North of the 400

North of Toronto, South of a championship

A special night from a special player

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This season, there hasn’t been a player I’ve enjoyed watching more then Kevin Durant, Not just in the NBA, but in all of sports.

I’ve enjoyed him more then John Wall, Phil Kessel and Drew Brees.

I’m far from alone on this, as a variable cult of personality has sprung up around KD. His fans range from The Basketball Jones – who graced him with the fantastic nickname Durantula – to Bill Simmons, who devoted a running diary to a random Thunder game a few weeks back.

It’s been quick for Durant, too. It’s sometimes hard to believe that he’s only in his third season in the NBA. He’s a fantastic scorer, he’s a heck of a playmaker and he’s begun to get to the line with ease.

Which is what made Tuesday night’s game against the Jazz so amazing. Despite being clearing fouled at the end of overtime, he didn’t get a call and the game ended with Durant looking at least a little annoyed.

An ugly end to an otherwise great game, though.

All throughout the fourth and into overtime, the Thunder and Jazz were playing at an incredible clip – both teams combined for nearly 280 points. To use a cliché, the game had everything: a two greats in a scoring duel, both kinds of comebacks – a 13-point comeback for the Thunder in the fourth, and Williams returning from getting his wind knocked out – a crazy finish.

The craziest part of the match wasn’t even a play that counted. With the game tied and something like a second left, Durant threw up a 40-foot shot that was just too strong, bouncing off the back rim. When you consider that Durant had to catch, spin and shoot, all within a second and with a man tight on him… and he still managed to not just draw iron, but that his shot was right on line. That’s something special from a player that’s special.

So was overtime. Williams had five points in the period, all in the last minute of play. The Thunder’s James Harden hit a big three and almost immediately Utah’s CJ Miles made a three point play to tie the game up. Right up until the buzzer, both sides were trading baskets.

It wasn’t at the same pace as the rest of the game – it was a lot slower – but that wasn’t a surprise. Both sides looked gassed.

Like I wrote, this one had it all and it was a lot of fun to watch. Hell, it was maybe the best regular season game I’ve seen since that Suns/Mavericks game in late 2007.

A little while ago, I made a case that Durant should be the NBA’s MVP. After Tuesday’s game, I’m more convinced then ever. Even while losing, Durant stole the spotlight. He had 45 points, seven rebounds and four assists. He was 12-of-12 from the line, too. Not a bad night for the NBA’s leading scorer.

In the last three and half minutes of regulation, the Thunder came back from being down by 11. Durant scored 12 points and assisted on the game-tying three.

That’s the kind of performance I’d expect from a MVP. And while Durant may not win it this year, he’s certainly putting the league on notice that LeBron James isn’t alone at the top.

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Written by M.

April 7, 2010 at 10:06 pm

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