There is little doubt that Kevin Durant and LeBron James are the two best players on the planet. So, heading into Wednesday night’s showdown in Miami, much of the buzz surrounding the Heat-Thunder matchup was the showdown between the reigning MVP against this year’s leading MVP candidate.
When the smoke cleared from Durant’s smoldering fingertips, it was the Thunder that came out on top, 112-95, in what could be a preview of the NBA Finals.
“It could be my last game every time I step on the floor, so I gotta give it my all,” said Durant, who extended his 30-plus scoring streak to 12 games as he scorched the Heat for 33 points, 23 of them coming against arguably the best one-on-one defender in the league in LeBron.
James had 34 for the game, but was only 2-for-6 from the field when guarded by Durant.
”It would have been fun to clear the court and watch them go 1-on-1,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks told The Associated Press.
During a stretch in the third quarter, Durant and James looked like they were playing one-on-one on the blacktop.
After James scored on a powerful drive, Durant came back with a 3-pointer. James scored on a pull-up jumper, Durant came back with another 3-pointer.
It was seemingly a game of “Can you top this?” And both were thoroughly enjoying it.
”Rucker Park, that’s what was going through my head,” Durant said, referring to the legendary New York City basketball playground where he scored 66 points in a game during the summer of 2011. ”It was fun. … I’m sure the fans got what they wanted to see with that one.”
“He’s a tremendous competitor,” Durant said of James. “I love playing against him.”
James was more disappointed in the Heat loss than getting worked by Durant, but he welcomed the challenged. ”It’s fun competition,” James said. “It’s been a while since I was able to do something like that.”
Durant is well on his way to claiming his fourth scoring championship. But you know a bigger title is on his mind, and he may have to go through LeBron to claim it.