BOSTON (CBS) — In sports, history has a way of repeating itself.
That happened for Kevin Durant on Wednesday night, as he returned to Cleveland for another Game 3 of the NBA Finals. Just like last year, the ball was in his hands on the left wing with a chance to hit a big shot to take a 3-0 lead in the series.
And just like last year, he drilled it.
The shot gave the Warriors a six-point lead and capped off an unbelievable night for the superstar. Durant scored 43 points while bringing down 13 rebounds and recording seven assists. He went 6-for-9 on his 3-point attempts and was a perfect 7-for-7 at the free throw line, carrying the Warriors on a night when Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson weren’t doing much scoring at all.
And after hitting that 3-pointer from 33 feet, Durant reacted by … not reacting at all. He immediately went viral for the ice-cold glare in what became (as the kids say) an instantly GIF-able moment.
After the game — which the Warriors won 110-102 to take a 3-0 series lead — Durant was asked why and how he remained so calm and composed, especially while Curry and Draymond Green were going crazy right next to him.
“Don’t get me wrong, every time I make a shot in the NBA I get excited. I just internalize it a little bit as I get older a little bit more than I did as a younger player. So I was definitely excited,” said the 29-year-old Durant. “It’s hard to make shots at this level in the NBA, and I understand that. But at the same time I knew the game wasn’t over. I’ve seen some crazy stuff happen in my years of playing basketball, not just in the NBA but just overall. We were up 6 with 25 seconds to go, I think. So anything could happen, man.
“You know, I just tried to make sure that we came out and didn’t foul a three-point shooter or didn’t give up a wide-open three or got too excited about that play. I just try to stay in the zone of trying to win the game and we’ll figure everything else out after the game’s over. So I just try to wait until the buzzer goes off to even think about anything else.”
Spectators and commentators couldn’t help but notice how similar the shot was to the one Durant made last year in Game 3 of the Finals. But LeBron James — he of photographic memory fame — calmly explained the differences between the two shots.
“No, that wasn’t the same shot,” said James, who scored 33 points as part of another triple-double. “The one he made tonight was about four or five feet behind the one he made last year. Last year we were up 2, and he pulled up pretty much right at the three-point line and got a great contest, but he made it. Tonight they’re up 3. They come off a pick-and-roll and he just stopped behind and pulled four or five feet behind the three-point line. So same wing, different location.”
Of course, LeBron was correct.
Yet just because LeBron was in full-on fact-checking mode after the loss doesn’t mean that he was not impressed by what he had just seen.
“You definitely tip your hat,” James said. “I mean, that’s what he does. He’s a scorer. You know, he’s an assassin, and that was one of those assassin plays right there.”