DALLAS -- As far as Kevin Durant is concerned, he was due for this kind of game.
Oklahoma City’s scoring machine was confident that he wouldn’t keep firing bricks. All due respect to Shawn Marion’s defense, but Durant considered his 34.1 percent shooting in the first two games of this series a fluke.
“I knew that if I’d just continue to work, they’d start to fall,” Durant said.
Shots kept falling for Durant in Thursday night’s 95-79 win over the Mavs that put the defending champions in danger of being swept out of the first round. The three-time scoring champion lit the Mavs up for 31 points on 11-of-15 shooting.
“He had a good game tonight,” Shawn Marion said. “I’ve got to give him credit. It’s frustrating to see him do that. As many times as he shoots, he’s going to have a good game here and there. S---, it’s bound to happen, he shoots so damn much.”
Durant really didn’t shoot that much Thursday, which is what made his performance so impressive. He attempted fewer shots in a game only 12 times this season.
Durant drilled a couple of wide-open 3s in the opening moments and stayed in a groove the whole first quarter, finishing the frame with 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting. He was outscoring the Mavs by himself for much of the quarter.
“He’s the best scorer on the planet,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “Marion did a phenomenal job for two games, and then tonight Durant picked his level up a little bit. He was making some of those contested shots.”
As good a defender as Marion is, it’s virtually impossible for a scorer of Durant’s historic caliber to struggle all series. The Mavs messed up by not taking advantage of Durant’s off nights early in the series, although he deserves credit for hitting a game-winner jumper in Marion’s grill in Game 1 and the go-ahead free throws in Game 2.
“If you look at Game 1 and Game 2, the way we defended him, we’ve got to steal one of them,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “He shot 34 percent from the floor in the first two games. That’s a time where we’ve got to steal one and we weren’t able to.”
Then, the Mavs weren’t able to slow down Durant in Game 3.