NBA AM: Scoring Title Supremacy: Kobe Or Durant?
Who you got in the scoring title race, Kevin Durant or Kobe Bryant? While there is still some jockeying for position going on in the playoff race, the 2012 postseason field itself is now officially locked in.
What is up for grabs and still ripe for the taking is this season’s scoring title – and the race will come down to the wire.
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant and Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant are locked in a duel to take home top scoring honors for 2012.
Durant is averaging 27.97 points on the season, which is just 0.11 points better than Bryant’s 27.86.
The battle represents old versus new, the inevitable changing of the guard. But can Bryant push through and score one for the vets?
Durant has won the last two scoring titles and is vying to become the first player to win three straight crowns since Michael Jeffrey Jordan accomplished the feat from 1995-98. He’d also join legends such as Wilt Chamberlain, George Mikan, Bob McAdoo and George Gervin as guys to pull off at least three straight.
Bryant, a five time NBA champion, would be looking to win the third scoring title of his career, winning the first two in 2006 and 2007.
The Thunder play host to the playoff bound Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night.
The Lakers will travel to Sacramento to face the lottery bound Kings on Thursday, thus Bryant will know exactly how many points he’ll need to take home the crown this year.
Here are some scenarios to keep in mind
- If Durant scores 18 points, Bryant would need to score 26 points in his finale to take home the scoring title
- If Durant scores 25 points, Bryant would need to score 32 points in his finale to take home the scoring title
- If Durant scores 30 points and Bryant scores 36 the scoring title race would end in a tie
- If Durant scores between 30-39 points, Bryant would need to top his score by at least 6 points to take home the scoring title
- If Durant scores between 40-48 points, Bryant would need to top his score by at least 5 points to take home the scoring title
- If Durant scores between 49-58 points, Bryant would need to top his score by at least 4 points to take home the scoring title
- If Durant scores between 59-68 points, Bryant would need to top his score by at least 3 points to take home the scoring title
Never forget, guys take this stuff seriously, and especially their teammates.
Who will forget San Antonio Spurs center David Robinson’s teammates feeding him the ball repeatedly in the 1994 regular season finale on his way to 71 points and the scoring title over Shaquille O’Neal?
Publicly, Durant is embracing the challenge of the showdown with Bryant but stopping short of making it his top priority.
“Kobe’s an unbelievable scorer, man, and he’s having a great season as well,” Durant told Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman. “If it happens, then it’s cool. If not, then I’m not worried about it. I’m just going to go out there and play my game. I’m not going to force anything just so I can score more points than Kobe.”
Two of the most prolific scorers in the league over the past twenty years, bragging rights on the line, battling for the scoring title – with only one game remaining in the season.
Can’t beat that.
Who do you think walks away with the scoring crown? Leave your comments below.
Playoffs Mean Small Redemption For Al Jefferson: Statistically speaking, since October 2007 you’d be hard pressed to find a big man in the league that has put up the kind of numbers Utah Jazz center Al Jefferson has been posting nightly.
In those 350 contests, Jefferson has averaged 19.6 points and 10.1 rebounds on close to 50 percent shooting from the floor.
The numbers looked real good on paper; the problem was Jefferson had started to develop a reputation as a guy who could get his numbers every single time he laced up the high tops, but at the end of the season his teams would always be on the outside looking in at the playoffs.
Despite the gaudy box scores, Jefferson’s name was never called for an All-Star selection or All-NBA team.
In fact, after serving as the face of the rebuilding Minnesota Timberwolves’ franchise, Jefferson was dealt for Kosta Koufos and two first-round picks to Utah.
The T’Wolves had decided power forward Kevin Love would be the guy to get them back to the land of relevancy.
Well, on Tuesday night Jefferson hushed some of his critics as the Jazz knocked off the Phoenix Suns to clinch a postseason berth. For Jefferson, it will be his first trip to the playoffs since 2005, when he was a rookie with the Boston Celtics.
“Seven long years; seven long years since I have been in the playoffs,” Jefferson told the Salt Lake Tribune after Tuesday’s win over Phoenix. “It’s a blessing. It’s a great opportunity to get here, a lot of people counted us out, nobody thought this team would be in a position to get in the playoffs, and we made it. It’s a great group of guys and everyone on our team deserves it.”
With a first round playoff matchup likely looming versus the top seeded and veteran laden San Antonio Spurs, the Jazz won’t have much time to celebrate.
But Jefferson took a moment to soak in the Jazz’s ride this season and the joy of exceeding most people’s expectations.
“It was a long road,” Jefferson said. “We started with short training camp, with a young team. We just stayed with it, Coach believed in us, we believed in ourselves, we got confidence and everybody just stepped up. It’s just a wonderful feeling we worked real hard to get here. I’m just proud of all the guys and everybody who just stayed with it.”
The Jazz wouldn’t have made it this far without Jefferson who led the team in points (19.4), rebounds (9.7) and blocks (1.7) this season.
Metta World Peace Shows Remorse: As HOOPSWORLD’s Eric Pincus outlined last night, Los Angeles Lakers forward Metta World Peace was suspended by the league for his vicious elbow to the head of Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden on Sunday.
Some called for a much stiffer penalty given World Peace’s history of on the court run-ins.
Peace maintained the act of throwing the elbow was part of his celebration for converting a dunk attempt.
On Tuesday night, Peace issued a statement showing remorse for his actions and wishing his victim a timely return to on court action.
“I hope James Harden is OK. I apologize to the Oklahoma City Thunder fans and the OKC organization…I look forward to getting back on the floor with my teammates and competing for the Lakers and the Lakers fans.”
Peace also reportedly cancelled an appearance on Conan O’Brien’s late night talk show.
The suspension will begin with the Lakers’ regular season finale on Thursday versus the lottery bound Sacramento Kings.
NBA Chats: There are two NBA chats on the schedule today. Kicking things off will be salary cap guru Larry Coon who will host his chat starting at 3pm EST. Submit a question for Larry here. Next up, I will be hosting my weekly chat at 8pm EST. Feel free to drop me a line on anything NBA related. You can always find our upcoming chats HERE.