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Kevin Durant: Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony toughest to defend in NBA

Kevin DurantKevin Durant has improved his defense and has become stingy on that end of the court, but he admits that Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony are still among the toughest players in the league to guard.

Durant conducted an interview with ESPN Radio over All-Star Weekend and was asked what the toughest 1-on-1 matchup would be for him. That’s when he mentioned Kobe and ‘Melo, who have reputations for being awesome all-around scorers.

“Kobe and Carmelo. They just have an array of moves that can get me off balance,” Durant said of the two stars. “They’re strong on defense as well, but Kobe is just the ultimate one-on-one player. It would be fun playing against him but it would be tough to beat him.”

Durant mentioned prior to the All-Star Game that he wanted to go 1-on-1 with someone during the All-Star Game, and the first player he mentioned was LeBron James. But he didn’t mention LeBron as the hardest to guard 1-on-1. Is that because James is more of a team offensive player than an isolation guy? Or because Kobe is injured and ‘Melo is on the Knicks, so they don’t pose a real threat to KD’s Thunder, while James is the guy he has to overcome? I’m not sure, but that certainly was a notable omission. And it is definitely a tribute to Anthony and Kobe that Durant mentioned them, though it’s not too surprising. Each player has always been known for being excellent on the offensive end. It’s Kobe’s shot selection and risky defense, and Carmelo’s ball-hogging and defense that people have questioned.

Transcription via Thunder Daily

LeBron James: Kevin Durant will feel pressure to win title after I retire

LeBron James Kevin Durant

The confidence from LeBron James appears to be at an all-time high right about now.

James recently said in an interview that the NBA Mount Rushmore will have to make room for him, meaning he’ll be one of the top four players ever. He has also made it very clear that he has no plans to stop winning championships any time soon.

James’ Miami Heat squad has reached three NBA Finals in a row and won back-to-back titles. They’re going for three in a row this season, though they’re still far away from LeBron’s not six, not seven … prediction. But James seems to think they’re going to get there.

How do we know?

Bleacher Report’s Ethan J. Skolnick asked LeBron about when the pressure to win a championship begins to shift to Kevin Durant, who is widely considered to be the best or second-best player in the league next to James. Durant is 25 and has reached the finals once, though he has yet to win a title. James was asked when the pressure to win a championship will shift to Durant.

“When I retire,” James told Skolnick. “When I retire. They’re still talking about, am I going to win a third? You know…”

LeBron didn’t mean that as a slight to Durant and he clarified.

“But I think, for him, obviously he’s an unbelievable player,” James said. “And I’m one of the guys that just don’t, I don’t believe that winning a championship defines your career, you know. There’s so many greats that never won, and it’s unfortunate that they didn’t.”

James said he hopes Durant doesn’t have to go through what he did. LeBron didn’t win a championship for his first eight seasons in the league before winning two in a row. He was just crushed by fans and pundits, and it really affected his personality and confidence. We hope Durant doesn’t have to go through it either.

LeBron is only 29. Though he has been in the league since he was a teenager and played over 950 career games including the playoffs, we don’t see him retiring any time soon. Maybe Durant will sneak in a title in the next few years, but this is still LeBron’s time. It’s unfortunate for Durant’s legacy that he has to compete with James for titles, but that’s the way it goes. Think about all the greats who never won a title because Michael Jordan stole them all. Patrick Ewing, John Stockton and Karl Malone never won rings because MJ was building his legacy. Hakeem never would have won a ring if MJ didn’t step away.

Most will still recognize Durant as a great player regardless of what happens. I think the fact that Durant has avoided a lot of criticism for not winning a title so far speaks about our expectations for LeBron more than anything else; James is expected to win. Durant winning would mean he overachieved and knocked off the best player.

Chest bump to Pro Basketball Talk

Jason Kidd is impressed by Kevin Durant (GIF)

Jason Kidd Kevin DurantWhen a guy is playing as well as Kevin Durant is, what can you really do if you’re an opposing team? There isn’t a whole lot, which is why Jason Kidd was left to give nothing but a shrug and smile while watching KD go off against his Brooklyn Nets on Friday.

Durant’s streak of 30+ point games came to an end at 12, but it’s not because he wasn’t playing well. In fact, he was so hot early in the game that the Oklahoma City Thunder built such a big lead that he only needed to play 30 minutes in the game. Durant was 12-of-12, including 3-for-3 on 3-pointers and 3-for-3 on free throws in OKC’s 120-95 win. He finished with 26 points.

What more can you do than shrug and smile?

GIF via Royce Young

Kevin Durant makes game-winning shot over like three Hawks (Video)

Kevin Durant HawksKevin Durant did it again. The Oklahoma City Thunder star scored 41 points, including a game-winning shot in the final seconds of his team’s 111-109 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night.

What was so impressive was how Durant had like three defenders around him and still made the shot. Throw two guys at KD, and maybe even a third, and the Slim Reaper will still kill you.

Durant went 15-of-25 from the field, 5-of-7 from 3-point range, and 6-of-8 at the line for his 41. He’s now scored at least 30 points in his last 11 games. He’s making a very strong case to win MVP this season.

The Hawks summed things up pretty well with this tweet:

Video via GIFD Sports

Kevin Durant suffered shoulder injury on this play vs the Spurs (Video)

Kevin Durant is sitting out Friday night’s Oklahoma City Thunder game against the Boston Celtics to rest his shoulder. The announcement from OKC coach Scott Brooks surprised many people because few realized the team’s star player was even bothered by a shoulder injury. Heck, KD did his best to hide it. But if you watched the Thunder’s game with the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday, you saw that he was hurt worse than he let on.

Midway through the third quarter against the Spurs, Durant drove to the basket and was met by Tim Duncan. Duncan appeared to get a clean block, but Cory Joseph was called for a foul on the play for fouling KD from the side. Durant went down to the ground and was grabbing his right shoulder in pain, but he did not leave the game.

Kevin Durant shoulder

KD made both his free throws and the team’s next two baskets. He played the rest of the quarter and did not even sit out until the beginning of the fourth quarter.

Durant showed few signs of the shoulder injury bothering him, but that was the type of collision where players can suffer ligament damage. His shoulder really was unintentionally yanked down hard by Duncan.

Friday will mark the first time in Thunder history that Durant or Russell Westbrook do not play in a game for the team. Brooks told the media that Durant is not playing because of a medical decision.

Kevin Durant prefers ‘KD’ nickname to ‘Slim Reaper’

Kevin Durant Slim Reaper

Kevin Durant has been a superstar in the NBA for years, so fans have always felt that he was deserving of a great nickname. Many were kicked around for years, and there was a conscious effort to bestow upon him a proper name that would represent him well and stick. The name that was settled upon was “Durantula,” but I never really liked it and it seems like Durant didn’t exactly care for it. But now we have another name that’s been catching on the past few days, and it looks like we have found “the one.”

Lately, people have been calling Durant the “Slim Reaper,” and I love it. A Reddit user is being credited with giving him the name. In fact, eight months ago, Reddit user “Beardfunk” called Durant “Slim Reaper” in a thread for an Oklahoma City Thunder-Memphis Grizzlies game. The name has picked up steam over the past few days since Durant has just been on fire, and Reddit is widely being credited as the source. Whatever the case, I’m all aboard. I love how it’s a play on words and describes Durant’s physique and killer ability/mentality in just two words. It’s fantastic. But is it too morbid?

Durant hosted a Twitter Q&A on Thursday and was asked for his thoughts on “Slip Reaper” as a nickname. He answered that he likes “KD” better.

Well, the good news is it’s not up to Durant to tell us whether he likes it or not. It’s up to the fans to decide whether we like it enough. If the fans and media decide that we like the name and start using it, Durant won’t have a choice. That’s just how nicknames go; you can’t choose your own nickname. That’s not something you can dictate. If it were, do you think Doug Martin would have picked “Muscle Hamster”? Of course not.

Sorry, KD, but Slim Reaper it is.

H/T Complex
Photo by Pixel via Deadspin

Kevin Durant scores career-high 54 points on just 28 shots

You know how LeBron James said he was jealous of the amount of shots Kevin Durant takes? Maybe he should really be jealous of how many shots Durant makes.

Durant went for a career-high 54 points on Friday night in a 127-121 win over the Golden State Warriors. He made 19 shots on 28 attempts including 5-of-9 from 3-point range. He also was 11-of-13 from the free throw line.

Durant was just superb throughout the game. He made shots in isolation, on catch-and-shoots, and when he was coming off screens. Most of the damage he did from the right side of the court, where he hardly missed a shot. Here was his shot chart via NBA.com:

Kevin Durant 54 points

Durant’s 54-point game is the high mark for the NBA this season. He surpassed the previous mark of 48, which he set twice (Jan. 4 and Jan. 7). Durant’s previous career high was 52 points. This was his third career 50-point game. The Thunder are 2-1 in his big games, which happen to coincide with running mate Russell Westbrook being out with an injury.

Durant’s huge game led to some great tweets, none better than the one sent by teammate Nick Collison:

Russell Westbrook sent a good one too:

And the Warriors had to send their recognition:

Stats via Point Forward Pro