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Durant Rising to Defensive Challenge
Posted By HOOPSWORLD On May 20, 2012 @ 6:58 am In All,Headlines,NBA Headlines | No Comments
The conversation between Thunder coach Scott Brooks and star pupil Kevin Durant that led to the lanky, “6-foot-9” forward checking the 6-6 Kobe Bryant down the stretch was a short one. Mostly because it wasn’t so much a discussion as it was an order.
“He said, ‘You get ‘em,’” Durant recalled, laughing. “I had to go guard him. I couldn’t tell Coach no. I didn’t want to back down from the challenge.”
With Durant’s long limbs all up in his face and the Thunder big men fronting in the post, Bryant fired off 10 shots in the fourth quarter and connected on only two. He didn’t make any of the four shots he fired up with Durant guarding him; his only points against the OKC forward came on two free throws after Serge Ibaka fouled him on a closeout.
Up 11 early in the fourth after Bryant surged for 15 third-quarter points on 5-for-7 shooting, the Lakers as a whole shot just 31.8 percent in the final period and were held to just two field goals over the final 4:28, with the second a meaningless Kobe jumper as time expired.
Bryant took seven of his team’s nine attempts from the floor over the game’s final five minutes as a stiff Thunder defensive stand forced L.A. into a one-man show (a tragic comedy, of course), and helped seal a 103-100 victory and a commanding 3-1 series lead.
“He wants to guard him,” Brooks said. “We like putting Thabo [Sefolosha], James [Harden] and Kevin on him. It was about three and [a] half minutes to go, and I made the decision. I thought that was the right thing to do at the time. Kobe was making shots like he always seems to do, but I thought Kevin did a good job of using his length and bothering him.”
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