Lately, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant has been playing like someone who’s pissed off. After displaying a bit of vulnerability and admitting his desire to finally finish first, last year, he’s letting his game do the talking and taking over this season.
On Tuesday night, Durant came alive in the final three minutes to lead the Thunder to a 105-97 win over the Portland Trail Blazers. Up 95-90, Durant dominated a 15-0 run with 11 points that included three three-pointers and an aggressive layup. He eventually finished the game with 46 points on 16-of-24 shooting and 6-of-7 from behind the arc, five rebounds, and four assists. But this is nothing new for the new MVP frontrunner. Over the past two months, he’s made more than half of his shots, averaging a .528 field goal percentage. In January, he’s averaging 37 points in 37.7 minutes per game. That’s one point per minute. Talk about efficiency! And that’s not all, while Durant’s scoring success and individual stats are mind blowing, it’s not at the detriment of his team. The Thunder are currently on a four game winning streak, and have won seven of its last 10 games. Only the Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs are playing better ball.
ESPN Stats & Info did the math and broke down Durant’s sensational play and what it means historically.
• Durant has scored at least 46 points four times in his past 10 games. Those are the four highest scoring games of any player in the NBA this season. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that he’s the first player to have four games of at least 46 points in a 10-game span since Kobe Bryant did so in April 2007.
• Durant has four games with at least 45 points this month. Only one player has had more such games in a month since the ABA-NBA merger: Bryant with five in 2005-2006 and 2006-2007.
• Durant is averaging 36.5 points in 14 games since Russell Westbrook went down with an injury. The Thunder are 9-5 in those games.
• He’s averaging 37 points per game in January. It’s the highest scoring month of his career (counting only months in which he played multiple games). Coincidentally, three of Durant’s four highest scoring months have come in January. He averaged 32.1 points in January 2010 and 31.6 points in January 2013.
• This was Durant’s eighth straight game scoring at least 30 points. No other NBA player has a streak longer than four games this season. Durant’s five games of at least 40 points are three more than anyone else in the NBA.
• Durant has scored at least 30 points and handed out at least four assists in each of his past eight games.
Last week, at the height of the Miami Heat’s struggles, LeBron James admitted he was jealous of Durant’s high volume shot opportunities. And last night, after Durant dropped 46 points just four nights after scoring a new career-high 54, James jokingly told reporters he had a KD watch or app on his phone. ESPN’s Mike Wallace tweeted, “I tried to tell LeBron what Durant’s stat were tonight. He already knew, interrupted me/w every # of his 46-point effort. LeBron on Durant: ‘You know I know. It’s like I’ve got a K.D. (app) on my phone.’ From folks keeping him up to speed.”
If anyone’s able to catch LeBron and disrupt the King James era this season, it’s KD. Next Wednesday, January 29, Durant and James face each other in what will certainly be an epic battle. Mark your calendars!