Durant Needs Help to Close Out Games?
After initially trying to deflect the credit for his closing rush, talking about (Russell) Westbrook’s screens as if they were why he had scored 18 points in the final 6 ½ minutes, (Kevin) Durant finally admitted that, yes, he wanted to close out this game. He even admitted he’d like to be called a closer.
“Yeah,” Durant said, “I would like that.”
But he needs help. He needs Westbrook, primarily, to get out of the way. More than that, he needs to Westbrook to do the anonymous dirty work that Westbrook did Saturday night as Brooks repeatedly called for a set that saw (Serge) Ibaka and (Kendrick) Perkins get out of the way while Durant, (James) Harden and Westbrook went to work.
Harden initiated the action while Westbrook set a screen for Durant, who would use that to get the ball before going one-on-one with whatever poor sap was in his way. Most of the time it was Stephen Jackson, who had muscled Durant off his favorite scoring spots in Game 1, and had spent the past two games trying to frustrate the skinnier Durant by getting physical with him away from the ball. In the first quarter of Game 4, Jackson leaned so hard on Durant that the mild-mannered Durant lashed out, swatting at Jackson like a frustrated cat will swat at a meddlesome puppy.
Well into the fourth quarter, the puppy was getting the better of it. With 6 ½ minutes left, three-time NBA scoring leader Kevin Durant had scored just 18 points. But then, boom. Durant tried to take over. Westbrook let him. And just like that, it happened.
“When teams start making a run, we’ve got to go to our first option,” Westbrook said. “And that’s Kevin.”
That’s all we want. Is it so hard?