New York Knicks managed to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder away last Sunday, but the most interesting storyline to come out of the game was the scoring title race between Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant.
Anthony outscored Durant 36 to 27, thus taking a minimal lead over his opponent. Both players are averaging 28.4 points per game this season and the race will come down to the wire.
Melo has been considered to be one of the best pure scorers in the NBA for a while now, but he has not been fortunate enough to take down a scoring title. Durant, on the other hand, has dominated in that regard for the last couple of years, leading the league in scoring in three consecutive seasons.
It seemed as though Durant would be the clear winner for a fourth straight season, but that was until Anthony went on fire. In April, Melo is averaging 41.8 points per game (four games) and 33.9 points per game in his last 10 games. In the same 10-game stretch, Durant is putting up “just” 28.7 points per game. Here are a couple of fun facts of the scoring race:
- Anthony has taken seven more shots than Durant this season, despite playing 14 games less.
- Durant has not even taken the most shots on his own team – Russell Westbrook is second in the league in field goal attempts. He has taken 75 more shots than Durant.
- Anthony has taken 210 more shots than any of his teammates (J.R. Smith second).
- Anthony has finished as the second-leading scorer in the NBA twice in his career (2007, 2011)
- Durant has been significantly more efficient this season. He has a field goal percentage of 50.6% to Anthony’s 44.8%
In the final stretch of the regular season, both the Knicks and the Thunder have games that carry playoff implications. Because of this, you can expect both players to play in their remaining games, or perhaps sit out one last game if the seedings are set before the end of the regular season. Here is the opposition both players will be facing:
Anthony will have one more game to play, which in one way might give him an advantage. Quite often, the last game of the regular season might be irrelevant in terms of determining the conference seeding, and it remains a possibility that both players could be rested for one or two games if that is the case.
In terms of the opposition, the Knicks have a little bit of a mixed bag. Washington have been playing great since John Wall returned to the lineup, but since the game will be at Madison Square Garden, you can expect Anthony to continue producing big numbers. They will also face two elite defensive teams in Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers, both of which will likely keep Anthony under 30 points.
The Thunder are scheduled for three road games. Utah is quite tough on their home floor, but you can expect Durant to go off against all three teams. Sacramento is also an easy opponent, but you would expect the Thunder to cruise to an easy victory, which could lead to Durant sitting out the last quarter.
Prediction: Carmelo Anthony will capture his first-ever scoring title. At the end of the day, the scoring title probably means a lot more to Melo than it does to Durant. It also helps that Anthony is scorching hot right now and can score on just about anyone.