What Happened Last Night: Kevin Durant Was His Usual Inhuman Self, And The Next Next Big Thing In American Tennis Was Born
Well, the Aussie Open is getting very interesting… which we promise we’ll get to eventually. First, per usual, comes basketball. Here goes.
Kevin Durant: barely human.
Sure, there were many reasons the Thunder beat the Celtics 109-97 last night. Chris Paul being out again played a role. Russell Westbrook’s 26 points, Serge Ibaka’s 17 and nine, Kevin Martin providing his usual scoring punch off the bench (13 points, three threes) – all important. But only one guy made people do this:
Durant is absurd.
— Eric Freeman (@freemaneric) January 23, 2013
Sweet baby Jesus Durant.
— Holly MacKenzie (@stackmack) January 23, 2013
MOTHER OF EVERYHAOFJDF A;DF AOFDI AOFDH AIOD DURANT ADJKA ;JD ALFDJ AODJ AODF AOD FAOD UDURANT ALD;JKA F;D AADFADFJ A DURANT ADL;AJF OADAOD
— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) January 23, 2013
WE’RE NOT WORTHY, O MIGHTY DURANTGOD WE ARE NOT WORTHY PLEASE SPARE US MIGHTY SMITER OF BASKETS
— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) January 23, 2013
That player, of course: CFL quarterback Darian Durant… just kidding, obviously we mean Kevin Durant, a truly remarkable basketball player. He put up a 32/7/7 line overall last night, but that doesn’t convey the extent to which he destroyed the Clippers late. His 104.8 true shooting percentage in the second half does a little better job of that. And if you’re looking for an individual moment to represent Durant’s second-half romp, enjoy:
That moment led to most of the tweets you see above. Surely you see why. And know this: Durant is way more than a (spectacular, spectacular) scorer. His all-around game continues to improve. And remember – he’s 24, at least a few years away from what will likely be his peak, and seems destined to eventually go down as one of the greatest players ever. Our advice to you, as fans: enjoy the ride.
Around the Association…
Speaking of awesome young players, another showed once again last night that he’ll be among the NBA’s elite for a long time: the Cavs’ Kyrie Irving. Irving dropped 40 on the Celtics last night – 11 in the final 2:33 of the game – to lead the Cavs to a 95-90 win over the Celtics. Yeah, the Cavs are only 11-32, a win over the Celtics doesn’t mean quite what it used to, but as long as Irving keeps developing at this pace, the future in Cleveland is actually worth getting excited about… even if this doesn’t happen.
Elsewhere: the Pistons topped the Magic 105-90 (the Pistons have a promising young talent of their own in Andre Drummond, who had 11 and 11 along with two blocks and two steals), while the Bucks beat the Sixers 110-102 behind 27 and 16 from Ersan Ilyasova and a strong game from the Monta Ellis-Brandon Jennings backcourt (43 pints and 17 assists combined). Andrew Bynum’s return will not come a moment too soon.
College basketball upset watch:
Couple genuine surprises last night: No. 5 Louisville fell to Villanova, a program that’s fallen off in recent years, 73-64, while No. 18 N.C. State lost to a Wake Forest tema that’s struggled even worse than Villanova recently, 86-84. Meanwhile, in the biggest game of the night, No. 3 Kansas fought off No. 11 Kansas State on the road, 59-55. Bill Self’s got another national contender in Lawrence.
Aussie Open update:
As we said, things are getting good Down Under. Last night’s biggest news: Serena Williams, who’d been dominent, bowed out of the tournament in the quarterfinals. This would be bad news for American tennis had it not been a fellow American – 19-year-old Sloane Stephens, to be exact – who knocked Serena out. Serena at first looked to be on her way to another easy win, but Stephens clawed her way back into it, and helped by a Serena injury, finished the job.
While Serena wasn’t at 100 percent, though, make no mistake: Stephens was brilliant. She matched the game’s most powerful player shot for shot, and on top of that, had the mental fortitude to take down one of the greatest players ever. She came into the tournament as the 29th seed, but her ranking is set to take a big jump now. This is the kind of win that can (hopefully) launch a career – and again, she’s just 19, so she should just be getting started. Advancing to the finals will be tough, but if she can beat Serena, she can beat anyone. We can’t wait to see if it happens.
On the men’s side, it happened – the top four seeds all advanced to the semifinals, setting up what should be some terrific tennis in the final rounds. Of course, in Roger Federer’s case it took a gigantic effort just to get to the semis at all – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga pushed him to five sets before Federer eventually triumphed 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-3. Tsonga’s played some of the best tennis of his life at the Aussie Open (and has knocked off Federer at a Grand Slam before), so it shouldn’t come as a huge shock that he pushed Federer to the brink, but in the end, the game’s best-ever player had a bit too much to handle. Andy Murray, meanwhile, had much less trouble, advancing in straights. He hasn’t dropped a set all tournament – here’s guessing that changes against Federer.
UPDATE: On the ice.
Once again, I don’t have a whole lot add to last night’s NHL action (see that link for all the scores) beyond another edition of “Did you really have to be on drugs to think the Oilers would be good?” Last night’s Oilers result: a 6-3 loss to the Sharks in which they surrendered all six goals in the first period. So… the answer to the drugs question, at least last night, was yes. Also the Kings lost again. 0-2 start for the defending champs.
No time for a witty ending to this today.
After all, you want me to get this thing out while it’s still technically morning, don’t you?
Photos via Getty