Has Kevin Durant figured out Ron Artest?

Through the first eleven quarters of this Lakers/Thunder series, Ron Artest held Kevin Durant to 23-of-67 shooting (34%). Over the past five quarters — the 4th quarter of Game 3 and all of Game 4 — Durant has shot 10-of-19 (53%) from the field.

But it wasn’t Durant that was the difference in OKC’s 110-89 blowout win over the Lakers in Game 4. There were four other Thunder players in double digits: Russell Westbrook (18), Jeff Green (15), James Harden (15) and Eric Maynor (13). Harden has played especially well in Game 3 and Game 4, scoring 33 points in the two games after going 0-for-5 for nary a point in Game 1 and Game 2.

But can this young team take this fine play on the road and steal a game in L.A.? Only six teams in the league had more road wins than the Thunder, so the answer is yes they can. The real question is whether or not they will.

As for Artest, while he played pretty good defense for the first 11 quarters, he has been an absolute disaster on the other end of the court. He is averaging 7-3-2 and is shooting 30% from the field and just 13% from long range. This wouldn’t be so bad if he were taking just a few shots per game, but he has averaged 10 attempts from the field and almost six threes per game in the series. Even with a decent season percentage (35%), he has no business taking that many threes when he’s in this kind of a rut.

Most pundits thought that OKC wasn’t ready to push the Lakers to six or seven games, but since that question has already been answered, now it’s time to find out if they’re ready to pull the upset. They are younger, faster and more athletic than the Lakers, but L.A. has the experience. Which will win out?

Game 5 in L.A. is on Tuesday.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

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