The Toronto Raptors beat the Golden State Warriors in overtime Thursday night by the score of 131–128. The matchup lost some of its potential juice due to the absence of Steph Curry and Draymond Green, but the basketball itself was terrific. Kawhi Leonard was great. Pascal Siakam was great. Even Serge Ibaka was excellent. Jonas Jerebko, of all people, put his stamp on the game. But Kevin Durant, I am afraid to say, was absurd. Kevin Durant is absurd.
This has less to do with Durant’s gaudy scoring total—he scored 51 points on 31 shots in 43 minutes of run, his third consecutive game of at least 44 points—than it does his ridiculous scoring repertoire. The Raptors were in control most of the night, and the Warriors were constantly working from behind, and it fell to Durant to be not just their primary scorer, but their primary ball-handler and shot-creator and playmaker, and with top-notch defenders like Leonard and Danny Green and OG Anunoby and Siakam draped all over him. It remains disgusting and unfair that a seven-footer who does this:
Also does this:
And also this:
But it’s really his last bucket of regulation that deserves your full attention. With the Warriors down six following a bold Kyle Lowry three-pointer, Durant dribbled his way to the right wing and, with Lowry inside his shorts, pulled up for a 27-foot three-pointer to make it a one-possession game. That was a ballsy bucket, but it was just an appetizer for the shot to come. On the next Warriors possession, after a Leonard miss, and with less than a full shot clock left on the game clock and the Warriors down three points, this happened:
There are shots that are Steph Curry shots, that Steph has made his own by being the only guy in basketball who reliably makes them—some inside-out dribble into a behind-the-back dribble into a step-back 35-footer, for example, or whatever the hell this is. And then there are shots that maybe only Kevin Durant, of all basketball players in the world, can take and make. Kawhi Leonard played pretty much perfect defense on that possession. And that’s not like saying such-and-such average defender played pretty much perfect defense. Kawhi Leonard erases very good players from the box score for whole quarters and halves of NBA games. He is the best perimeter defender in basketball, and one of the very best ever. Here he picked Durant up at half court, and successfully funneled him into inside help, and was right in his hip pocket as Durant retreated to the corner, where Kawhi got one of those insane extend-o-arms up to contest the shot with one of his cartoonish satellite dish hands. The vast majority of NBA players would not be able to get off a clean shot under those circumstances, let alone stand a decent chance of actually making it. Durant might be the only guy in basketball who is tall enough and also quick enough and also long enough and also strong enough and also a brilliant and natural enough shooter to turn that possession, against that defender, into a bucket. There is no defending against that level of shotmaking.
Here’s a full video of everything Durant did against the Raptors. It’s extra good because it ends in a Warriors loss, but Durant was a damn monster. Steph will be back this weekend; Draymond could be back as soon as next week. Imagine adding those jerks to this jerk. Dammit.