With a blistering 51 point explosion, including the go ahead three-point basket, Kevin Durant ensured that the Oklahoma City Thunder would not drop their road game against the Toronto Raptors, despite losing Russell Westbrook to an apparent knee injury.
Durant overcame a very slow start and poor shooting to make sure the Thunder secured their 51st win of the season. It was the theme of the night with the NBA’s leading scorer netting 51 points for good measure – including 12 in the two overtime periods while also registering 12 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 steal and 1 key block, in one of the best performances of the NBA season.
While many believe this is the closest race to the MVP award the NBA has seen in decades, Durant may have just put his nose in front again with this display. LeBron James had 15 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists in a Heat win on the same night, but it was Durant’s performance and box score that stole the show.
In the two horse race for the Most Valuable Player award (and it really is only a two horse race) Durant won last night’s battle in a canter. With the status of Westbrook still up in the air after he was forced to leave the game against the Raptors after clashing knees with Kyle Lowry – we might get to witness even more heroics from the NBA’s leading scorer.
In January this year – with Westbrook sidelined – Durant showed his newly evolved game in some monumental performances. From his string of 30 point games, to his 54 point explosion against the Golden State Warriors, all eyes were on Durant. Not only has he scored at an effective and efficient rate (nearly 32ppg at 51% FG) he has lead the Thunder to one of the leagues best records and has also added 5.5 assists per game and 7.7 rebounds per game. Gaudy numbers by any stretch.
While Durant is focused on winning and NBA Championship and bringing the Larry O’Brien Trophy to Oklahoma City, there is no doubt it would be nice for him to achieve the recognition as one of the best players in the game. He is well on his way to another scoring title, but an MVP trophy would be a great addition to the trophy case.
As the race to the playoffs heats up, and the Thunder try their best to keep winning and perhaps steal the #1 seed out West from the San Antonio Spurs, a nice little underlying story is the battle between two of the game’s best for the MVP honors. With performances like last night’s, it is really hard to look past Durant this time.