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List of Articles by Homer D. Sayson


 

Nick was right, Kevin Durant is swell

By Homer D. Sayson
PhilBoxing.com
03 Mar 2012



NICHOLAI Rhiz Roska covers both the LA Lakers and LA Clippers for PhilBoxing.com. In fact, he will be at Staples Center this March 4, officially credentialed to chronicle the epic duel between Kobe Bryant and friends versus LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the streaking Miami Heat.

Big deal, sure. But just another day in the sportswriting office for Nick.

Nick is a discriminating fan who had followed the NBA practically at birth. He knows talent when he sees it and he isn't quick with his praise. After all, he grew up watching Magic, Michael and Larry strut their all-time greatness on TV.

But when Nick saw Kevin Durant play in the flesh at Staples last season, the Cebuano from Los Angeles was impressed beyond words. He was sold on Kevin. Hook, line and sinker.

"He is unreasonably good," Nick, suddenly effusive in his adoration, said in an email. "Kevin has all the tools to become an unstoppable force on offense, but his defense needs some work. At age 23, he isn't on the elite level just yet, but he definitely is on the express train to get there."

Well, Thursday night Orlando, that express train had finally arrived.

Durant, the gum-chewing, backpack carrying small forward, rescued his team from the jaws of defeat by scoring 38 points as the Oklahoma City Thunder edged Dwight Howard and the Magic, 105-102, at the Amway Center in Orlando.

Durant had played at the same arena just a few nights before, in the All-Star Game where he captured the MVP award with a marvelous 36-point explosion that wowed even the best among his peers.

But Sunday night was an exhibition game, eye candy for the fans. Last night was for real, a contest that mattered in the official standings, where the Thunder are now the best in the NBA with a 29-7 won-lost record.

Durant started uncharacteristically slow. He couldn't make a basket even if his life depended on it. "I was so down on myself. I was really going down after the first quarter," he said. "But my coaches and my teammates continued to encourage me and they said they believed in me."

Obviously, that faith was not misplaced.

When the fourth quarter beckoned, with the Thunder staring at an 11-point deficit, Durant went nuts.
In the ensuing 12 minutes, the 6-foot-9, 235-pound juggernaut poured 18 points. His pair of free throws with 3:56 left to play gave Oklahoma a 90-89 lead after trailing all game long. He added a 3-pointer 35 seconds later, extending the Thunder's cushion to 93-89 and effectively sealing Orlando's doom.

Durant's scoring volume was exciting to watch unfold before my TV set. He swished 5 of 8 triples and calmly sank all nine of his free throws. Durant is an elite player, alright, and the economy of his shots -- 12 of 21 filed goals -- was startling.

The No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft four years ago, we kind of knew Kevin is a wholesale scorer. He can manufacture points anywhere, anytime. And last night in Orlando, Durant's maturity, which is a continuingly evolving process, manifested itself so well.

In the crucible of a tough road game, against a team who went to the NBA Finals in 2009, Durant carried himself with the poise and confidence befitting a superstar.

Yes, Nicholai Rhiz Roska was right. This kid Kevin Durant is swell. So the next time I drop by LA, Nick's Heineken is on me. (HDS)


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