With the latest LeBron slippage, it it becoming an ever closer MVP race. Durant made a huge stride when he demolished LeBron and the Heat less than two weeks ago. LeBron statistically is having a much better season that Durant, but as we know (ahem Derrick Rose) that stats aren’t all that goes into voting. Durant’s biggest chance to win this award is to lead his team to the best record in the NBA, and beat LeBron twice in the head to head match ups. Instead of doing a after the game recap, I will be doing my best to recap each significant play in the battle in a Bill Simmons-esce running diary. Lets get it started.
11:02 – Westbrook doesn’t get back on defense and LeBron finds Wade for an easy pass ahead and the assist. Durant did not look happy about Wade getting beghind everyone.
10:38 – Durant takes it to the hole and gets it stripped, after a couple of bounces it is still OKC ball.
9:45 Durant takes the ball up the court and fails his arms to get the foul in the lane. Caught Haslem reaching. That’s a no-no on Durant. Durant makes them pay at the line, hitting both free throws.
9:30 LeBron gets the ball at the elbow and has no place to go, good D by Durant
9:10 Durant gets sloppy up top and Wade steals, then on the next possession he misses Ibaka under the hoop. Two quick turnovers for Durant.
8:00 Durant cathes the ball on the inbound and knocks down the 20 footer. Hubie calls him the best catch and shoot guy in the NBA
7:46 LeBron gets fouled going to the rim, comes down awkwardly and turns his left ankles. Looks like on one of the camera people. Miami fans already bringing out the MVP chant. LeBron hits both.
6:15 Westbrook steals a lazy inbounds pass. Durant drives hard past Bosh and puts Turiaf on a poster. LeBron is going to have a tough time beating a dunk like that. Highlight plays in this key game will help Durant out if they get the win. Miami timeout.
5:32 Durant breaks up a 2-1 Wade and LeBron fast break. Dont see that often.
4:10 Battier comes in and he is D-ed up on Durant. This is not what we want LeBron, be a man.
3:40 LeBron hits a trailing three from the top of the key. Thunder up 18-16.
2:43 – TV timeout after Ibaka destroys Cole’s layup attempt.
1:58 After another turnover Durant rims out a 30 ft jumper, then on the same possestion Durant gets another dunk attacking the rim for his 8th point.
1:28 LeBron hits a three right in Durant’s face. Durant shows disgust.
:40 Harden finds Durant alone in the corner for the three. Might want to guard that guy.
:29 LeBron going for the two for one just attacks the rim and forces the foul. Makes both free throws. LeBron has 10 of Heat last 12 points.
— End of quarter —
7:27 Long rest for LeBron and Durant as they re-enter the game with Thunder up 36-25.
6:47 LeBron dribbles right past Durant for the easy layup.
5:45 Perkins with the hard foul on Wade. Teams start talking a bit as they review the foul. Teams are starting to get chippy. Flagrant-one called. This does not make anyone happier.
5:33 Westbrook tackles LeBron on a break away. LeBron made it look alot worse than it was. Westbrook grabbed his left shoulder and LeBron acted like he got shot. Durant talking some major smack to Chalmers while LeBron shooting FTs.
4:09 Thunder zone LeBron on the weak side. It results in a ball reversal and a Chalmers 3.
3:38 LeBron hits a three right in Harden’s face. Only reason Heat are in this game is because of the three point shooting.
3:17 As LeBron misses a three a Westbrook sucks chant breaks out.
2:10 LeBron jumps the passing lane and has a typical run out dunk.
0:00 LeBron hits a 22 footer to end the half. Miami up 50-49. Probably the best regular season game of the year. Amazing defense and intensity.
— Half —
9:16 Slow start until LeBron leaks out and gets a dunk after Durant smacks him in the face. Converts the and-1.
7:37 LeBron fouls Durant before the inbound, Durant to the line for just his third and fourth free throw. Makes both.
5:25 17th foul on the Thunder already this game. Miami in the penalty.
3:54 In a slow quarter, Collison picks up on the foul on LeBron as he drives to the basket. LeBron hits his 28th point.
:45 Durant missed back to back threes on the same possession. Durant has 8 turnovers and LeBron has completely thrown him off his offensive game.
:3 Durant hits a floater on LeBron to end his slump and bring OKC back to only down 7. LeBron has dominated this matchup for the first three quarters. We will see if Durant gets any rest going into the 4th.
–End of quarter–
11:20 Without LeBron in, Durant goes to the high post and shots over Battier. Maybe Durant can get things going without James in the game.
6:54 After a sluggish start a LeBron pick and roll ends up in back to back Battier threes in the corner. Scott Brooks calls a timeout to make some adjustments. Last shot giving LeBron his 10th assist.
6:13 Durant finally hits a three to bring it to two point game. Durant now with 26.
5:26 Durant gets the ball stripped away for his 9th turnover, he chases LeBron down and Durant blocks the dunk. So I give the posession a meh.
5:10 LeBron scoring a quick four points. This game is going to go down to the wire.
2:33 – Westbrook finds Durant on a back door oop. Durant throws it down hard in what is now a one point game.
2:12 LeBron gets block by Ibaka and gets his own rebound. He takes it out then gets tangled up in what results in a jump ball for Haslem and Ibaka. Ibaka wins the tip.
1:30 LeBron forces Durant into a fall away that hits the side of the backboard. Thunder still down one.
:43 Durant gets stripped going to the hole by Wade. Three point game and Thunder ball.
:41 Perkins misses two FT’s to cut into the lead. LeBron with the board.
:20 LeBron misses a fall away dagger over Westbrook. Game still at three points with OKC ball. Time out.
:16 Durant misses a three on the inbound. Air ball. Looking like the game as Wade heads to the line up 3.
:00 The Wade FTs seal the deal. 98-93 Miami.
It is fair to say that LeBron controlled Durant from start to finish. Even with 30 points Durant had a career high nine turnovers. He was limited to four rebounds and three assists. Looks like the pair split wins and losses and dominate performances. LeBron took a solid step forward in the MVP race with this performance. He finishes with 34-7-10 and a defensive performance to boast about.
But with a month left for voters to be swayed, who knows what will happen?