The Thunder played a basketball game last night, and that means that Kevin Durant did something amazing. The Slim Reaper didn't get pissed off this time, but he still dropped 41 points on 25 shots and won a game with two unguardable shots, the last a pull-up floater that the Hawks couldn't have blocked if you'd spotted them a five-second head start and Mark Eaton.
The first came with 25 seconds left in the game and the score tied at 107. Durant received the inbounds pass just in front of the half-court line, took two hard dribbles toward the right elbow, shook DeMarre Carroll with a buttery behind-the-back dribble, and then splashed the open jumper. The whole sequence was just as pretty as it was inevitable.
Paul Millsap answered Durant with a bucket of his own on the other end, and the Thunder got the ball back with 22 seconds left, the score tied at 109-109. That's when this happened:
That's a garbage shot, the kind of prayer that gets thrown up at the end of the shot clock by players who don't have a better option. Durant makes it look easy, but at your next pick-up game go ahead and try recreating that shot—take three full-speed dribbles with your dominant hand, pull up on a dime, rotate your whole body in mid-air to a get a square look at the rim—and ask yourself if that's the kind of shot that anyone has any business hitting with such ease.
But Durant is so big and so agile and so precise in his mechanics that nothing he throws up is a garbage shot. While watching that last play, I remember thinking that the Thunder were waiting way too long to get the ball in Durant's hands. When he eventually did get the ball, about 35 feet away from the rim with five seconds on the clock, I thought Scott Brooks had blown it. There's not enough time, you idiot! Maybe think about drawing up a play next time.
And then Durant started to make his move, and I realized that whatever happened in the next five seconds—a triple team, an earthquake, Bill Russell himself dropping from the rafters to try and block Durant's jumper—didn't really matter. The ball was in Kevin Durant's hands, and the Thunder had already won.