Young gets motivation from Durant
April, 17, 2012
By Pedro Moura | ESPNLosAngeles.com
LOS ANGELES -- As soon as Nick Young got into the game Monday night with two-plus minutes to go in the first quarter against the Oklahoma City Thunder, OKC forward Kevin Durant made sure he was feeling a little anxious.
"You can't guard me," Durant told Young, which the Clippers' swingman relayed after the game. "You can't guard me."
Young took offense and put together arguably his best defensive effort since being traded to the Los Angeles Clippers a month ago at the trade deadline. It was also -- maybe not coincidentally -- by far his best offensive game since returning home to L.A.
He put together a solid effort against Durant and the Thunder in last week's win in Oklahoma City, but this was one better by all accounts.
In 21 minutes Monday, Young shot lights-out, scoring 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range. From the time he entered into the game for Caron Butler until the final buzzer, Young actually outscored Durant in fewer minutes.
Speaking after the game, he said he could take two things away from his personal performance in Monday's 92-77 Clippers' win: For one, he plays better when he thinks less, and, for two, he plays better when people tell him he can't guard them.
"I guess he heard in the papers that I was locking him up," Young said of Durant. "So that kind of motivated me."
Durant, who was whistled for a double technical foul with the Clippers' Mo Williams, late in the second quarter, wasn't the only one talking abnormal amounts of trash. Young said he started talking back more and more as the game went on, and several Clippers players noted chippy exchanges at various points in the game.
"It was back and forth, everybody," Young said.
Clippers guard Randy Foye said he'd take any opposing player telling him he couldn't guard them very seriously.
"I would've did exactly what Nick did (and showed him) you can't guard me," Foye said. "If KD said he couldn't guard him, then Nick did the perfect thing by not saying anything and letting his game speak for itself."
For Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro, Young's positive performance had less to do with any on-court exchanges than it related to better shot selection. Often in a Clips uniform, the 6-foot-6 swingman has come in and taken the first available shot he sees, even if it's not a good one.
He demonstrated a different approach Monday.
"I was pleased with Nick because he didn't settle with his first couple of shots," Del Negro said.