Kevin Pelton, SUPERSONICS.COM
| July 15, 2007
LAS VEGAS - This night was supposed to be about Kevin Durant and Greg Oden, the first matchup of the No. 1 and No. 2 picks of the 2007 NBA Draft. While Oden had to cancel because of tonsil surgery, Durant was here - but he wasn't the show. Jeff Green upstaged his more-heralded fellow rookie with his best performance of the NBA Summer League.
Showing off the range of the abilities that made him the fifth overall pick in the Draft, Green scored 32 points, matching Durant's high game two nights earlier. Green shot 10-for-18 from the field and hit 10 of his 14 free-throw attempts. Included were three dunks, a pair in traffic in the first half that dazzled the large crowd on hand at the Cox Pavilion. Green also grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds.
"He was a horse. We kept going to him, and every time he got the ball he scored."
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty
"He was a horse," said Durant. "We kept going to him, and every time he got the ball he scored."
Durant was hardly unimpressive. He had his best shooting night of the summer, hitting eight of his 19 shots. Durant scored 28 points and also made his living at the free-throw line, hitting 11 of his 13 attempts.
The combination of Durant and Green still was not enough to earn the Sonics a victory in the NBA Summer League. Down the stretch, the Sonics could not overcome Portland's duo of Zendon Hamilton and Stefano Mancinelli.
Journeyman big man Hamilton scored seven straight Blazers points as Portland took the lead. The Sonics were still down just two in the final minute when Mancinelli's three-pointer pushed the lead to a more comfortable five points.
Meanwhile, the Sonics committed costly turnovers down the stretch and Durant and Green got little help from their teammates. Point guard Zabian Dowdell was the team's third-leading scorer with five points. The Sonics shot 40% from the field and 23.1% from three-point range.
Portland's 84-78 victory ended Seattle's NBA Summer League at 0-5. The Sonics and New Orleans were the only two teams not to record a win.
"It's always important to try to get a win," said Green, "but this is summer league. Everything doesn't work out your way sometimes. We played hard. That's all you can ask for. As long as you play hard and play together, even though you lost, you can know you played your hardest."
Sunday was bigger than the result of the game itself. It was a glimpse into the future of the Sonics franchise, one headlined by Durant and Green. With either Durant, who started at shooting guard for the second straight game, or Green defended by a smaller defender, the duo proved impossible to defend.
"Hopefully we continue the same progress that we had today," said Green. "We played very well together. With our size, we can confuse a lot of teams. I think today we really showcased that a lot by exploiting the mismatches."
"I've got a lot of confidence in Jeff that he can score the ball, so I don't mind (sharing it) and vice versa," Durant said. "Whenever we get the ball, we just try to flow off each other."