Pretty Dang Reliable: Durant's 36 Leads Thunder To Game 7

Thursday, May 1st 2014, 10:39 pm
By: News 9

How do you like me now?

Kevin Durant dominated, scoring 36 points and grabbing 10 rebounds as the Thunder dominated the Memphis Grizzlies 104-84, forcing a winner-take-all Game 7 in Oklahoma City. 

RELATED STORY: "Mr. Unreliable" Headline Causes Stir Among Thunder Faithful

Durant came out as a man on fire.

KD scored 10 of the Thunder's first 14 points and finished the first quarter with 14. The Thunder's energy and focus were stellar, holding Memphis to just 17 points in the first quarter and relentlessly attacking the rim on the offensive end.

Oklahoma City attempted just two 3-point shots in the first quarter. Caron Butler got the start for Thabo Sefolosha, and hit OKC's only first-quarter 3-ball.

Zach Randolph's 14 points kept Memphis in the game, while everybody's favorite, Mike Miller, nailed two more 3-pointers in the half.

The 56-41 halftime lead was a good sign, but it came with cautious optimism considering the series' historical string of overtime games.

But Oklahoma City squashed those concerns with a strong start to the third. The Thunder outscored Memphis 26-20 in the period and cruised to the easy win.

Despite his strong play, Durant still struggled to find the range from downtown. KD was 0-6 from deep, but that was about all he did poorly.

Westbrook was also dominant, finishing with 25 points and nine rebounds. Reggie Jackson was big off the Thunder bench, adding 16 points on 6-9 shooting.

The game's biggest surprise was the play of rookie center Steven Adams.  Adams was a force on the defensive end, blocking five Grizzly shots and mixing it up with Randolph on multiple occasions. 

After a dominant first half, Randolph only scored two points in the second half and finished with 16. Marc Gasol led Memphis with 17, while James Johnson chipped in 15 off the Memphis bench. No Grizzly finished with double-digit rebounds. 

OKC shot a blistering 49 percent from the floor and a respectable 33.3 percent from downtown, but created and held its huge lead from the free throw line.  The Thunder drained 23-25 from the stripe, including Durant's 14-15. 

Thunder coach Scott Brooks said that he didn't believe the headline controversy impacted Durant's performance. 

"I don't think so," Brooks said.  "What was said, what was written, it has no bearing on Kevin or our team. He doesn't need outside influinces to motivate him. You don't get to this level as an NBA player and a great player as he is to have other people motivate you. He's self-motivated."

The Thunder outrebounded the Grizzlies 47-36 and blocked 11 shots to Memphis' one. 

Butler finished with seven points on 2-5 shooting and four rebounds in his first playoff start with OKC.  Brooks announced after the game that Butler will start again in Saturday's Game 7.

"Within the last 48 hours we decided on making that change, and going forward, Saturday, it looks like we will (start Butler)." 

Game 7 is set for Saturday night in Oklahoma City, and you can bet the Thunder fans will be ready.

"This is why you play the game, to prove doubters wrong," Butler explained.  "Adversity reveals character, and this team's got a strong character. We're a reflection of our city. We have a great opportunity to have that place rockin' and get a win."