The mantle has passed. All doubt is removed. We saw it with our very eyes Saturday night at the Staples Center.

Kevin Durant is the NBA's King Closer. Kobe Bryant no longer is.

Durant is the new Ice Man, and we don't mean George Gervin, the thin man from yesteryear who so often is compared to Durant. This Ice Man delivers with the game on the line, and now he's got the Thunder one win away from the Western Conference Finals.

Durant swished a 25-foot 3-pointer with 13.7 seconds left to break a tie, and when Kobe clanged a deep 3-pointer with nine seconds to go, the Thunder secured the 103-100 win, took command of the series and ended all discussion on which player on Planet Earth you want taking a shot with the game on the line.

This was Durant's third game-winner in eight Thunder playoff games this season. The buzzer-beater against Dallas in Game 1. The running one-hander with 18.6 seconds left against the Lakers in Game 2. Now this majestic shot that sucked not only the air out of the Staples Center, but the idea that anyone besides the Durantula is Mister Clutch.

"How about the play of Kevin Durant late in games in the playoffs?" asked TNT's Steve Kerr. "I mean he has been ridiculous."