The NBA's scoring champ closed the first night of the 2012 NBA playoffs with a bang.
Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star forward Kevin Durant clinched the scoring title on Thursday night. 48 hours later, he delivered a dramatic last-second jumper to defeat the defending champion Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 of a Western Conference first round playoff series.
Trailing 98-97 with eight seconds left, Durant received a sideline inbounds pass and went to work on Mavericks forward Shawn Marion. After a reverse spin dribble outside the three-point line, drove left to the free throw line, where he rose to shoot a jumper over Marion's outstretched finger tips. The shot caught front rim, hit the backboard and then dropped in with 1.5 seconds remaining.
"It looked bad when it left my hands," Durant said in a televised post-game interview. "I was struggling all night with my shot, missing open ones. Thank the Lord that one went in, man. I was just trying to be aggressive the whole fourth quarter and will us to victory."
After Durant's hoop, the Mavericks rushed the ball upcourt but were not able to get a shot off before time expired, giving Oklahoma City the 99-98 victory at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
"I like the fact that he drove to the basket and got to a place where he can pull up above the defender," Thunder coach Scottie Brooks said, according to CBSSports.com's Royce Young.
"I didn't want to settle for a 3 so I just tried to take it closer and shoot a shot," Durant said later during his post-game media session. "And I got enough arc on it and it went in."
"At the end, we wanted Marion guarding him, and Durant made a great shot," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle added, according to Young. "The only other thing we could've done is double-team him and got the ball out of his hands. And we should've done that. That's on me."
It was a sweet conclusion to a tough night for Durant, who shot just 10-for-27 from the field to score 25 points. He added six rebounds, four assists and four blocks in 44 minutes.
"It's the playoffs," Durant said. "No matter how it gets done, you got to do it."
Game 2 is scheduled for Monday night.