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Kevin Durant vs New Orleans Pelicans: A Possession by Possession Analysis

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Kevin Durant returned on Tuesday night in the loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, how did he do? Well we take a look possession by possession.

Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The MVP of the NBA came back a few weeks earlier than expected and made his 2014-15 season debut Tuesday night in New Orleans against Anthony Davis and the Pelicans.  Durant was on a minutes count of about 30, and he finished the game right at that mark.

A quick legend: All possessions that are linked are to shots he took, italicized possessions are touches, possessions that are crossed out are where he did not touch the ball, "Westbrook Being Westbrook" is where Westbrook never looked to pass once during a possession and took an ill-advised shot and No Touch/No Effort is where Durant basically took himself out of the play.

First Quarter

First possession:
Westbrook quickly get Durant the ball off the curl, Durant is long from 20 feet on the first shot of the game, 0-0.

Second possession:
Durant with a defensive rebound, leads to the slow break and a reverse layup for Steven Adams, 2-0, Thunder.

Third possession:
Durant gets the ball off a Steven Adams steal and is fouled by Luke Babbitt.  Durant makes 1 of 2 free throws.  3-0 lead for the Thunder.

Fourth possession:
Ibaka with a defensive rebound, outlet to Adams for some reason, over to Durant for a wing three and swish, he has a quick four points and the Thunder are up 6-0.

Fifth possession:
Durant throws a bad pass that is picked off by Anthony Davis.  6-0, Thunder still.

Sixth possession:
Westbrook passes it around, Durant touches it quickly, before getting it back to Westbrook.  Durant backs off as Westbrook tries to break Holiday down, gets the ball down to Serge Ibaka for a quick layup.  8-2, Thunder.

Seventh possession:
Durant takes himself out of the play, Westbrook to Ibaka for a missed jumper, 8-4, Thunder.

Eighth possession:
Durant touches the ball a couple times, but no shots.  Ibaka makes another layup, is fouled, goes to the line, makes the free throw, but Westbrook is called for a lane violation, 10-6 Thunder.

Ninth possession:
Andre Roberson kicks it to Westbrook after a defensive rebound, Westbrook with a pull-up jumper with 20 on the clock, bricked... 10-6, Thunder still.

Tenth possession:
Westbrook gets a rebound, walks it up the court, tries to take Holiday off the dribble, can't, so he settles for a jumper with 12 on the clock.  Score hasn't changed and it's still Thunder up, 10-6.

Eleventh possession:
Durant catches at the elbow for a nice jumper.  Nothing but net.  12-8, Thunder

Twelfth possession:
Durant doesn't touch the ball, Westbrook gets by Davis blocked.  Westbrook attacked the basket and never looks to pass on this possession.  12-8, Thunder.

Thirteenth possession:
Another no touch for Durant, another block on Westbrook.  Another attack of the rim by Westbrook, Durant trails the play, would have never been available for a good pass and scoring opportunity.  12-8, Thunder.

Fourteenth possession:
Westbrook gets Durant the ball on the right wing, he quickly sizes up Anthony Davis, attacks to his right, blows by Davis, goes for a two-handed dunk, Davis blocks him and fouls him. He sinks both free throws.  14-8, Thunder.

Fifteenth possession:
Westbrook to Ibaka for a quick three with 17 on the shot clock.  14-10, Thunder.

Anthony Morrow subs in for Durant after he logs in 7:12 in the quarter. The Thunder end the quarter down 26-29 in the quarter, or -7 without Durant on the court.

Durant First Quarter Shooting
Durant 1st Quarter Return

vs. Pelicans on 12/02/14
KD vs. League 13-14

In 2013-14 KD averaged 3.1 for 6.2 in the first quarter


You could tell with the first possession and the first shot off the curl that Durant wanted to get going early.  Durant touched the ball the first six possession and the Thunder scored eight quick points to open the game.

Durant First Quarter Stats
Shots Touches No Touches Westbrook Being Westbrook No Effort/No Touch Turnovers Points
3 9 6 3 2 1 8

Second Quarter

The Thunder start with Durant on the bench still, he comes back in with 8:02 left in the half.  Oklahoma City trailed at this point in the game 36-37.

First possession:
This time he worked a two-man game in the mid post with Reggie Jackson and rattles home a turn around 12-footer to give the Thunder a 38-37 lead.

Second possession:
Didn't touch the ball, but Morrow gets a catch-and-shoot three.  41-38, Thunder.

Third possession:
Gets rebound off missed Anthony Davis free throw, gets ball to Westbrook who takes a pull up 13 footer and misses.  41-39 Thunder.

Fourth possession:
Durant gets the ball at the top of the key, drives left, carries the ball for a turnover. 41-41, Thunder.

Fifth possession:
Westbrook calls timeout to halt possession after inbounds from Perkins.  Durant never sees the ball for obvious reasons.  41-43, Pelicans.

Sixth possession:
Durant inbounds to Westbrook.  Westbrook shoots free throws and ties the game at 43.

Seventh possession:
Westbrook almost commits a turnover, passes out to Durant who dribbles off his knee for the turnover.  43-46, Pelicans.

Eighth possession:
Westbrook to Ibaka for the hook shot, no touch. Durant didn't touch the ball this time and stood around the three point line watching the play.  43-46, Pelicans.

Ninth possession:
Westbrook turnover in the paint with 19 on the shot clock, no touch on this trip for Durant.  43-49, Pelicans.

Tenth possession:
Westbrook fouled on the inbounds after a time out, no touch for Durant.  45-49, Pelicans.

Eleventh possession:
Durant gets the ball from Westbrook at the high wing, turns into Luke Babbitt, drawing the foul and then knocks down the two free throws.  47-51, Pelicans.

Twelfth possession:
Westbrook to Jackson for a corner three, no touch for Durant.  Another instance where Durant stands around on offense and doesn't make himself available.    47-53, Pelicans.

Thirteenth possession:
Westbrook sets up Jrue Holiday on the left wing, drives to the paint and hits the lay up.  No touch for Durant. 49-55, Pelicans.

Fourteenth possession:
Durant with the rebound of a Davis missed jumper.  He pushes to Westbrook who misses a reverse layup. 49-55, Pelicans.

Fifteenth possession:
Steal by Westbrook, cuts to the to the basket and is fouled. 50-55, Pelicans.

Sixteenth possession:
Westbrook takes inbounds and goes straight to basket for a layup.  52-57, Pelicans.

Seventeenth possession:
Westbrook to Ibaka, who has the ball stolen away for a Pelicans layup. Durant is motionless on the wing, about 25 feet away from the basket.  Thunder never looked to him, but he never made himself available for a pass either.   52-61.

Eighteenth possession:
Durant brings the ball up, passes to Jackson who attacks the rim and misses the layup. 52-64

Nineteenth possession:
Durant gets the ball on Anthony Davis in the mid block again, goes for the turn around jumper, but misses, Ibaka gets the board, but turns it over on a pass to Jackson.  52-67

Twentieth possession:
In bounds to Durant for a pull-up 30 footer at the buzzer that is short.  52-69, Pelicans at the half.

Durant Second Quarter Shooting
Durant 2nd Q vs. Pels

vs. Pelicans on 12/02/14
Durant 2nd Q in 2013-14

In 2013-14 KD averaged 2.3 for 4.2 in the second quarter

There were eighteen straight possessions in which Durant did not get a shot off during the Pelicans run that would ultimately decide the game. The thing that ultimately ticks me off about Durant this quarter is there was no urgency from him at all, by my count he took three plays off where he didn't make himself available at all while the Thunder were in their half court set.  First game back or not, there needed to be some effort there.

During this run Westbrook had two turnovers and was blocked by Anthony Davis on three straight possessions.  We'll just move on from this train wreck of a quarter.

Durant Second Quarter Stats
Shots Touches No Touches Westbrook Being Westbrook No Effort/No Touch Turnovers Points
3 9 11 3 3 2 4


Third quarter

First possession:
Everyone except Durant touches the ball on that possession.  52-69, Pelicans.

Second possession:
Gets the ball mid block again, drives left on Davis, but leaves it short.  52-71, Pelicans.

Third possession:
Missed Ibaka pull-up three, Thunder rebound and Ibaka with a bad pass that is stolen by Anthony Davis.  No touch for Durant. 52-71, Pelicans.

Fourth possession:
Off an Ibaka block, Durant gets the ball from Roberson for a wing three pointer.  55-71, Pelicans.

Fifth possession:
Steal by Roberson of a Durant missed pull up three, Durant touches it twice, but loses the handle on it when he drives to the center of the of the paint.  55-71.

Sixth possession:
Durant assists on Westbrook's made three-pointer.  58-74, Pelicans.

Seventh possession:
Durant touches the ball once, but Roberson gets the long assist with a Westbrook layup. Durant slowly rotates to ball side, but never shows himself to get the ball back. No matter though a the Thunder score anyway.  60-76, Pelicans.

Eighth possession:
Westbrook to Durant for a quick slam on the weak side of the court on a drive past Ryan Anderson. 62-76, Pelicans.

Ninth possession:
Westbrook with a pull-up 13 footer that is an air ball, no touches for Durant.  Westbrook never looked to pass, tried to draw a foul, but there was no one there to get fouled by.  62-76, Pelicans.

Tenth possession:
Jackson to Durant who catches and shoots from the weak wing (16 feet) and it's in and out.  62-76, Pelicans.

Eleventh possession:
Westbrook, Adams both touch the ball and that leads to a missed 21 footer from Ibaka.  No touches for Durant, didn't even try to get himself open.  He stood at the top left of the three point line and watched the action.  62-78, Pelicans.

Twelfth possession:
Durant would have assisted to Westbrook on a 20 footer, but Westbrook dribbled a few times.  64-78, Pelicans.

Thirteenth possession:
Durant playing point forward and has it stolen from him as he tries to drive by Ryan Anderson.  64-78, Pelicans.

Anthony Morrow once again subs in for Durant after 7:10 of play.  With Durant off the floor, the Thunder managed to cut the deficit by a single point.

Durant Third Quarter Shooting
KD 3rd vs. Pels

vs. Pelicans on 12/02/14
KD in 3rd 13-14

In 2013-14 KD averaged 3.1 for 6.2 in the third quarter


Durant had his highest number of touches and shots this quarter.  The Thunder couldn't really cut into the deficit that much with him on the court, but did make some gains with him off the floor.  Not a knock against him, the Thunder reserves just vastly out-played the Pelican reserves.

Durant Third Quarter Stats
Shots Touches No Touches Westbrook Being Westbrook No Effort/No Touch Turnovers Points
5 10 4 1 2 2 5


Fourth quarter

Durant returns with 7:18 in the game and Pelicans immediately score, putting the Thunder down 85-98.

First possession:
Westbrook insisted on driving and creating for himself, had Durant open and calling for the ball, but turns the ball over.  85-98, Pelicans.

Second possession:
Westbrook again doesn't look to pass and turns the ball over.  85-100, Pelicans.

Third possession:
Just reread the possession above and you have your possession here.  Sigh.

Fourth possession:
Durant walks into a pull-up three and it's wide left. 85-100, Pelicans.

Fifth possession:
Reggie Jackson gets the rebound, dribbles into a pull-up 16 footer, 87-100, Pelicans.

Sixth possession:
Defensive 3-second call, free throw is hit, ball goes back to Thunder, Westbrook again attacks without looking to pass, is fouled and makes the free throw for the 3-point play.  91-103, Pelicans.

Seventh possession:
Jackson passes to Durant, who drives right, pulls up and hits a 14 footer.  93-105, Pelicans.

Eighth possession:
Durant passes to Ibaka deep in the paint, whom makes an easy layup.  95-107, Pelicans.

Ninth possession:
Durant catches a pass out from Westbrook and nails a three.  98-107, Pelicans.

Tenth possession:
Durant catches the inbounds pass after a Westbrook near turnover and bricks a three from 24-feet.  98-107, Pelicans.

Eleventh possession:
Westbrook looks for Durant right away, gets the ball at the top of the key, drives on Tyreke Evans, looks for contact, but Evans pulls the chair, Durant falls and throws up a shot before he travels and somehow it drops.  100-110, Pelicans.

Twelfth possession:
Westbrook drives, almost turns it over again, pops out to Durant for a three, it's in-and-out.  102-110, Pelicans.

Thirteenth possession:
Westbrook takes the inbounds off the timeout, tries a three, flops, no-call, misses.  102-112, Pelicans

Fourteenth possession:
Durant gets in the inbound, drives, whirls, drops the ball in the paint.  104-112, Pelicans and that is going to do it for this game.

Durant Fourth Quarter Shooting
KD 4th vs. Pels

vs. Pelicans on 12/02/14
KD vs. league in 4th

In 2013-14 KD averaged 2.5 for 5.5 in the fourth quarter


Durant ended up shooting on seven of his eight touches scoring ten points.  He took zero plays off in the fourth quarter and on top of that he didn't have any turnovers.  Thunder had some chances to to make some plays, like early in Durant's first possession back on the floor when he's wide open in the area of the floor where he shoots 42% from three, Westbrook looks at him, decides to drive and ends up turning the ball over.  Could have cut the lead to 10 points. Westbrook would go on to turn the ball over the following two possessions before Durant would get another shot and it was a terrible looking three.

Durant Fourth Quarter Stats
Shots Touches No Touches Westbrook Being Westbrook No Effort/No Touch Turnovers Points
7 8 6 4 0 0 10

Durant Full Game Shooting
KD vs. Pels Game

vs. Pelicans on 12/02/14
KD vs. League 2013-14

In 2013-14 KD averaged 10.5 for 20.8 per game

Durant Total Game Stats
Shots Touches No Touches Westbrook Being Westbrook No Effort/No Touch Turnovers Points
18 36 27 10 7 5 27


Durant shot the ball 50% of the time he touched it, which seems a little bit low to me, even if he is coming back from injury.  Out of the approximate 63 possessions he was on the floor he took 11% of the plays off, didn't touch the ball once 43% of the time, Westbrook didn't look to pass to him once 27% of the time and he turned the ball over roughly 8% of the time.  Yes, there is rust being the first time he's played in a meaningful basketball game since Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals (May 31st or 26 weeks and 3 day or just 185 days).  He should have a much better outing on Friday against the 76ers.  Not that this was a bad outing for the reigning MVP who was on a strict minute count.