Thunder forward Kevin Durant went off for a career-high 52 points in a 117-114 overtime victory over the Mavericks on Friday, putting up one of the most unusual stat lines you will ever see.
Durant shot 13-for-31 from the field (41.9 percent), five-for-nine on three-pointers (55.6 percent) and a perfect 21-for-21 at the line. Durant is shooting 52.0 percent on the season and his 41.9 shooting in this game was his worst mark in 19 games, since he shot nine-for-24 (37.5 percent) during a Dec. 9 win over the Pacers. The Associated Press reported after the game that he was a little peeved at himself because of all the missed shots before he scored eight points, including the go-ahead basket, in overtime.
"In overtime, I knew if I got down on myself that I was going to put my team in a tough position to win," said Durant, whose previous career high was 51 against Denver last February. "They look at me in crunch time to come through for them. When I don't have confidence in myself, they make sure they pump me up a little."
"Experience has helped me a lot," said Durant. "If I look like I'm out there panicking, my teammates will look at me and feel the same way. I've got to be cool. If I miss a shot, so be it. I'm sure opportunity will come back around sooner or later."
The Mavericks, as you might expect, weren't thrilled at the 21 free throws attempted, which tied Durant's season-high (he also attempted 21 against the Clippers in a Nov. 21 win). The Thunder noted that his perfect 21-for-21 was the second-most free throws without a miss in NBA history, trailing only Hawks forward Dominique Wilkins, who went 23-for-23 in 1992.
ESPNDallas.com reports that forward Shawn Marion said that the referees were against his team.
“It’s hard to beat anybody when you’re playing five-on-eight,” Mavs small forward Shawn Marion said, a not-so-subtle reference to Durant’s 21 free throw attempts, all of which he made. “That’s nuts. Some of them were fouls. Some of them were questionable. But it is what it is.”
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle praised Durant overall scoring acumen.
"There are some things that we obviously could have done to limit him," Carlisle said of Durant. "He had a great game, and he is the best shooter on the planet."
Durant, the three-time defending scoring champion, moved into second place in this year's rankings with 29.3 points per game. Lakers guard Kobe Bryant sits atop the leaderboard at 29.7 points per game.
Even on an "off" shooting night, Durant had plenty of highlights. His scoring reel includes his many three-pointers, a nifty finish amid four defenders in the paint, a floating bucket in transition, a textbook pull-up jumper at the free throw line, a one-legged fadeaway and the go-ahead bucket, an off-balance pull-up over Marion.
Video via YouTube user NBA