Kevin Durant is averaging a career-high 32.1 points per game this season and is likely going to win the NBA MVP award. Not many teams have been able to slow him down, but the Houston Rockets were able to hold him to a modest 7-for-19 shooting night on Friday. Durant still scored 28 points, but his 36.8% shooting was one of the Oklahoma City Thunder star’s worst games of the year.
After the game, Durant was asked if the Rockets frustrated him by playing so physically. The normally soft-spoken star briefly broke character.
“They wasn’t playing one-on-one, it was one-on-three,” Durant said, via Clutch Fans. “They were funneling on me with two or three guys. Before I got the ball they had two guys on me. Those dudes can’t check me one-on-one. They know that. I ain’t afraid to say it either. I was playing with double-teams, triple-teams, but you still gotta find a way to do it. They’re physical like everybody else.”
The Rockets probably don’t care if they can check Durant one-on-one. They won the game, which is more important than being able to brag about shutting one of the best players in the game down with one-on-one defense.
Durant can expect to see similar scenarios throughout the postseason. Even with Russell Westbrook garnering his share of defensive attention, teams will look to slow down Durant as much possible, ideally denying him the ball before he can touch it, or forcing him as far out on the perimeter as possible.
In the meantime, Durant’s Thunder will look to secure their second seed in the Western Conference and potentially even gain ground on the first-seeded San Antonio Spurs, who currently hold a 3.5-game lead over the Thunder in the standings.
The Thunder and Rockets are two of the better teams in the Western Conference. They could very well meet again in the playoffs, so perhaps Durant is trying to get Houston’s head a bit by challenging them.
Michael Jordan once scored 25 or more points in 40 consecutive games. Kevin Durant has now pulled off the feat 41 straight times, after dropping 38 points in the OKC Thunder’s 122-115 road loss to the Phoenix Suns on Sunday. Durant’s scoring streak is the longest since Oscar Robertson did it for 46 straight games in 1963-64. Wilt Chamberlain did it in all 80 regular-season games in the 1961-62 season.