There are plenty of goals for the Oklahoma City Thunder and Kevin Durant this season. Championship and MVP above all else, but winning the scoring title and on the way breaking an old record by Michael Jordan doesn’t really hurt. A 116-96 win over the Utah Jazz go them a little bit closer, or at least him.
The Thunder have the second best record in the West and the league, three games behind the scorching San Antonio Spurs. They are still going to play one more game against each other, but the Thunder need the Spurs to slip up a bit more along the way in order to get that top spot in the conference.
Someone who already has the top spot in a number of charts is Durant, scoring 31 points and adding 9 assists while playing for 29 minutes. He hardly made a mistake in a game that was over by the time the first quarter ended. There’s no doubt he’ll be the MVP at the end of the season, no matter what LeBron James might do in the next few games. He’s the best scorer in the league by far, and now has 38 consecutive games with 25 points or more, only two away from Jordan’s record of 40 back from the 1986-87 season.
Durant tried to play it cool like he isn’t aware of the record, but that’s probably a lie. For someone who is so connected with his statistics and cares quite a lot about them, it’s hard to believe that reaching an impressive mark that combined consistency with excellence doesn’t matter at all.
The Jazz scored an embarrassing 9 points in the first quarter. The Thunder are still without Perkins and Sefolosha, but that doesn’t mean they can’t play very good defense at times. A lot of it has to do with the amount of enthusiasm and aggressiveness shown by Durant and Russell Westbrook on that end of the floor. When it comes early, it might finish a game minutes after it had actually started.
Westbrook finished with 19 points and was a perfect 9-of-9 from the line, followed by Serge Ibaka with 17 points and four blocks while Caron Butler, looking better and better with his new team, adding 15 points off the bench, in what might turn out to be one of the more influential free agent signings this season.
And the Jazz? Next season can’t come soon enough. There were moments this season, especially after Trey Burke returned from his early injury, that they looked good enough to compete with almost every team in the West, but there’s a lot of talent and quality to be filled in all kinds of places for them to make it back into the playoffs next year.
I’m just going out there, playing my game. If it happens, cool. If it doesn’t, cool. That’s how I approach it — just playing within the offense. If a shot’s there, shoot it. If a pass is there, pass it. I try to play as simple as I can. If that comes with it, then so be it, but if not, I’m not going to lose any sleep.