There are great shots. There are impossible shots. And then there’s the shot that Kevin Durant hit against the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 2 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals.
The Oklahoma City Thunder were down 98-93 in Game 2 with just under 15 seconds left in regulation when Durant hit a three while practically horizontal in the air after being bumped by Marc Gasol. He hit the free throw to cut the lead to one and eventually help force overtime. The Thunder would lose in that extra time, but the magic of Durant’s four point play lives on. With that in mind, and in honor of his MVP season, here is a tribute to Kevin Durant: The Top 10 Shots of His Career… so far.
Honorable Mention: Thunder at Indiana Pacers – April 6, 2012
Poor Roy Hibbert. He’s already having a rough postseason without this resurfacing. In a display of brute strength, Durant drove through the lane and dunked over one of the NBA’s elite rim protectors. The commentators knew it was special, which is why they went crazy.
10. Thunder at Toronto Raptors – March 21, 2014
After falling behind 118-110, Durant and Derek Fisher hit threes to cut the lead to two. John Salmons then missed two free throws for the Raptors, setting up Durant to do this:
This game may epitomize the 2014 Thunder regular season. After Russell Westbrook left the game after spraining his right knee in the third quarter, Durant picked up the rest of his team and willed them to victory. He scored 51 points to go along with 12 rebounds in the game, none more bigger than the go-ahead three with 1.7 seconds left in double overtime. Keep in mind that this was a much deeper three than normal, and that Amir Johnson contested the shot extremely well. But at the end of the day, just another moment of KD’s clutchness.
9. Dallas Mavericks at Thunder – April 28, 2012
One year after being booted from the playoffs in the Western Conference Finals by the Mavericks, the Thunder had a chance for revenge in the first round. Not only did they sweep the defending champs, but they won Game 1 in dramatic fashion with a late Kevin Durant basket over two defenders that bounced in and epitomizes the concept of “shooter’s touch”.
8. New York Knicks at Thunder – January 22, 2011
A clutch three pointer for the win. What else is new for Durant? This one was designed out of the inbounds to be a Durant isolation play all the way. He didn’t disappoint, nailing a fadeaway from the right wing to give the Thunder the lead for the first time since the first two minutes of the game.
7. Atlanta Hawks at Thunder – January 27, 2014
The Hawks knew what was coming, and they still couldn’t stop it. All five Hawks converged on Durant as he dribbled, but it wasn’t enough to stop him from hitting a pull-up jumper from the right wing for a 111-109 win.
6. Thunder at Denver Nuggets – April 25, 2012
Just a few days before the playoffs began, Durant was tuning up for a run to the NBA Finals with this monster dunk on JaVale McGee. Durant’s posterization of the big man was a bright spot in the 106-101 loss.
5. Thunder at Denver Nuggets – March 1, 2013
It’s no game winner, but it sure is impressive. Durant hit the layup that Dr. J invented and Michael Jordan perfected. It wasn’t enough, though, as the Thunder fell 105-103.
4. Seattle SuperSonics at Atlanta Hawks – November 16, 2007
His rookie season had just begun. The Sonics were tied at 123 with the Hawks with 2.1 seconds left in double overtime, and it looked poised to go to a third OT. Wally Szczerbiak inbounded to the just-turned-19 forward, and he did the rest.
And with that, the legend of Kevin Durant was born.
3. Dallas Mavericks at Thunder – December 29, 2011
NBA premiere week pitted the Thunder against the defending champs in a rematch of the Western Conference Finals the previous year. It was a great game from start to finish, but Dirk Nowitzki kicked the ball out to Vince Carter for a go-ahead three pointer. Trailing by two with just 1.4 seconds left, Kevin Durant countered Carter’s three with this:
Deep, off balance three. Ball game over. Thunder win, 104-102. Chesapeake Energy Arena goes crazy.
2. Thunder at Minnesota Timberwolves – December 20, 2012
“Oh no he didn’t” indeed. While driving to the hoop, Durant was fouled as he threw up a shot. Maybe he didn’t think it was going in, or maybe he just knew it was and wanted to look cool, but Durant turned away as the ball bounced twice off of the top of the backboard and then straight down into the hoop.
1. Memphis Grizzlies at Thunder – April 21, 2014
You’ve seen it before by now. Even though the Thunder lost the game, it was an incredible shot. The combination of everything going on – the foul, 15 seconds left in a playoff game, the degree of difficulty, the fact that it led to a Thunder comeback – just make this four point play the best shot of Durant’s illustrious career so far.
There you have it. The Top 10 Shots of Kevin Durant’s Career. But this list is incomplete. Durant is only 25. I wouldn’t be surprised if almost every shot named got bumped off the list for something even more spectacular. It may come tomorrow, or it may come 10 years from now, but Kevin Durant continues to make scoring look easy. The greatest part is that his best is still to come.
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