OKLAHOMA CITY —
Kevin Durant wasn’t going to make it easy. With a chance at a third-straight NBA scoring title within his grasp, the Oklahoma City star wasn’t just going to hand his crown over without putting up a fight.
Going into his team’s final game of the season, Durant knew he had to put up a big enough number to hold off Los Angeles’ Kobe Bryant, who still had one game remaining.
Durant dropped in 32 points Wednesday against Denver. However, the Thunder fell 106-101 at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
“If I don’t win the scoring title, MVP or whatever, it doesn’t mean I didn’t have a good year,” Durant said. “To think back on everything I’ve done this season, I’ve gotten better. I’ve improved in every area I wanted to improve in. I scored a few points. But I think as a defender and facilitator, I got better.”
As a team, there wasn’t much Oklahoma City was playing for against Denver. With the No. 2 seed wrapped up, all it could do was send a message to the Nuggets, a possible first-round opponent.
The game took on a physical nature down the stretch with hard fouls and intense defense. It’s something Thunder coach Scott Brooks said his team can expect more of in the postseason.
“Physical basketball is what we like,” Brooks said. “We love to play tough. We love to play physical and w have to do that. That’s what our team is about and that’s how you have to play in the playoffs. We don’t have to change. That’s what we’re about.”
With his team trailing 100-97, Durant came to the scorers table and asked if that was the correct score. He then knocked in a lay-up to get his team to within one point.