DALLAS, TX - MAY 25: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder reacts in the fourth quarter while taking on the Dallas Mavericks in Game Five of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Center on May 25, 2011 in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Kevin Durant Says 51 Point Performance Is Something He Dreamed About As A Kid

The suddenly beat-up Thunder will take on the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night and may be without starting point guard Russell Westbrook.

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NBA Mid-Season Grades: Thunder Score 'A-' On SI.com

Sports Illustrated's Britt Robson recently went through every team in the NBA and gave them a mid-season grade. For the Oklahoma City Thunder, who, as of Monday, had a record of 25-7 record placing them in first place in the Western Conference (first in the Northwest Division), Robson awarded an A-.

As expected, the Thunder's combination of youthful energy and roster continuity has given them an edge in a year when there is little time to rest or practice. Those who favor teams that pound the ball into the low post don't trust the Thunder offense, which would rather slash than bludgeon. Incredibly, they have built the best record in the West despite a road-heavy schedule, a merely league-average defensive efficiency rating and an offense that turns the ball over nearly as often as it registers an assist. But stars and supporting cast all play their roles to the hilt, and the offense is second in efficiency despite the turnovers because Kevin Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook are among the top 15 in free-throw attempts per game and collectively convert 83.5 percent of them. Durant also shoots 51.6 percent from the field, making him as reliable as any classic low-post behemoth. It remains to be seen if "Thunder ball" can thrive deep into the playoffs. But the jury is in on its success in the regular season.

The season is only halfway over, but the Thunder looks like a legitimate championship contender so far. If they continue to do what they did in the first half of the season in the coming weeks, they'll be in great shape when the regular season comes to an end and the playoffs start.

For more on the Thunder, head to Welcome To Loud City.

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Kevin Durant Says 51 Point Performance Is Something He Dreamed About As A Kid

Anytime a player drops 50 points, it serves notice to the rest of the league that something special is going on. Kevin Durant’s been dropping those hints the moment he stepped into the NBA. Even though the Oklahoma City Thunder have the best record in the NBA’s Western Conference, Durant is still finding new ways to raise his game, including last night’s thrilling overtime win over the Nuggets in which he scored a career high 51.

Durant said that kind of performance is worth it because of the win for the team, however he could not deny the personal gratification of such a performance.

“It feels better to get the win,” Durant said when asked about his scoring night. "The way we came back and the shots that we made in the fourth quarter feel better. However, 51 points feels cool. As a kid, it is something you dream about… People will talk about me getting 50, but Russell Westbrook carried us in overtime and it feels good to get the win.

Westbrook added 40 points in a career game of his own, and together they show just how amazing the Thunder can really be. If anything, this game showed a resiliency as well as star power that could serve notice to the rest of the NBA that the Thunder have a chance to take it all this year.

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