A Look at Kevin Durant’s Western Conference Finals, Game 4 Performance
After a first half that saw Durant play as focused and under control as we’ve seen this series, the Dallas Mavericks smothered the league’s two-time leading scorer defensively, double-teaming him and making him the total focal point of their defensive scheme, basically inviting anyone else in an Oklahoma City jersey to step up and take a shot.
Durant was helpless, his teammates couldn’t hit a shot and now the Thunder finds itself on the brink of elimination after a 112-105 Game 4 overtime home loss to the Mavs.
“They played good defense,” Durant said. “We were missing shots. Our youth has nothing to do with it.”
This isn’t about pinning the blame on any one player; the Mavs were the better team and the team that did a better job of exposing its opponents flaws in crunch time.
The Thunder led by 15 points with just under five minutes to play in regulation. That’s when reserve James Harden fouled out and the Mavs upped its intensity in denying Durant any semblance of a decent look at the basket. Dallas outscored the Thunder, 17-2, down the stretch of the fourth quarter to force overtime and come away with its second straight road win.
It was a stark contrast in how the first half went for Durant.
From the very start of Game 4, it was evident what type of mindset Durant had come with. KD never settled. He was in full-on attack mode. After going 0-for-8 from behind the arc in Game 3, he didn’t attempt a three-pointer until the second half on Monday. By halftime, KD had 14 points on 6-for-8 field goals. He attacked the rim, set up his opponent in the post and took high-percentage shots from the perimeter.
When the second half came, the Mavs’ defense, led once again by Shawn Marion, locked in. Durant finished with 29 points on 9-for-22 shooting, 15 rebounds and four assists but nine turnovers.
“The guys that are getting the ball a lot are facing tremendous pressure,” Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle said. “Look, we’re game planning like crazy for (Durant).”
Tags: 2011 NBA Playoffs, 2011 NBA Season, Dallas Mavericks, Game Recap, Kevin Durant, Western Conference Finals