MacKenzie: Durant Praises, Torches Raptors

Late Thursday night, Kevin Durant tweeted a Toronto shout out.

“This what Sauga feel like in the night time.”

The tweet is a lyric from Mississauga artist PartyNextDoor’s “Break From Toronto.”

Late Friday night, Durant poured in a 51-point, 12-rebound, seven-assist performance in a double-overtime victory against the Toronto Raptors.

Prior to giving Air Canada Centre its most gut-wrenching loss of the season, Durant held court in Oklahoma City’s locker room in front of a projector showing game film.

A childhood fan of the Toronto Raptors, he was asked a lot of questions about the city. While acknowledging that he doesn’t keep up with the Raptors now that he’s in the league himself, he wasn’t shy in showing his appreciation.

“I’ve always been in a big Toronto fan,” Durant said. “Growing up, that was my favourite team of course. Vince Carter was my favourite player. T-Mac. I was definitely a fan.”

Durant came into the contest respecting the chemistry the Raptors have developed this season.

“They’ve got a lot of good players,” Durant said. “Kyle Lowry, DeMar [DeRozan]. They’ve got a nice group. I think when they beat us back at home, that got their season started. Hopefully we change that up tonight and try to get us a W here.”

He had praise for Montrose Christian high school teammate Greivis Vasquez, but delivered it with a serving of humble pie.

”He’s one of the toughest people I’ve ever been around, mentally tough,” Durant said. “He can’t jump over a telephone book, but he figured out a way to do it. He’s a brother for life, somebody I love and am really happy for.”

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More than anything else, though, Durant was especially looking forward to getting a prime time game against the Raptors instead of the Sunday afternoon matinee slot.

“The arena is electric every single night,” Durant said. “It’s one of the best arenas in the league. It’s always fun playing here.”

Durant ended up getting more than his fill on Friday night. After 52 minutes of game action he was ready to close things out and did so in dramatic fashion as he drilled a three-pointer with 1.7 on the clock.

The shot sucked the air out of the arena and took the wind out of Toronto’s suddenly shredded sails. It was the shot that capped off a performance that will be mentioned when MVP voting comes around.

After watching Russell Westbrook be helped to the locker room after banging knees with Kyle Lowry, Durant’s takeover began. Brushing off a 3-for-13 start, Durant made 12 of his next 19 shots to give the Thunder life in a game they had no business winning, down three possession with less than a minute remaining.

“We couldn’t go another overtime,” Durant said. “I had to live with whatever happened. You had to get out of there. I wasn’t trying to go to another overtime. That was the craziest game I’ve ever been a part of.”

Durant came to Toronto wanting to put on a show. Creating his own highlight reel in the arena where childhood favourite Vince Carter put on some of the performances that made him want to become an NBA player, he ended up stealing the game.

There is no shame in taking Durant and the Thunder to double-overtime, but that doesn’t lessen the sting of his last-second shot. The hushed murmurs of conversation from a shell-shocked crowd slowly filing out of the arena confirmed that hearts had been broken along the way.

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