HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — The 2011-12 NBA scoring race is coming down to the wire.
Going head-to-head are a pair of two-time scoring champs: Kevin Durant, who has led the league each of the last two seasons, and Kobe Bryant, who won scoring titles in 2005-06 and 2006-07.
Through Monday, Durant has a slight edge. He also has two games remaining, while Bryant has just one.
2011-12 NBA scoring leaders
The team that could really help determine this year’s champ is the Sacramento Kings. Durant and the Thunder host the Kings on Tuesday, and Bryant and the Lakers will visit Sacramento on Thursday. The Kings have been the third-worst defensive team in the league. They allowed Bryant to score 38 points on March 2.
Bryant has scored 67 points in two games (33.5 ppg) against the Kings thus far, while Durant has scored 85 points against the Kings in three games (28.3 ppg).
On Thursday, Durant and the Thunder will face the Nuggets, the team he scored a career-high 51 points against on Feb. 19 (in an overtime game). So as far as opponents go, it appears he has the edge over Bryant in these final days.
One other advantage is that Durant has been a much more efficient scorer. He has scored 1.42 points per field goal attempt, while Bryant has scored just 1.21 points per field goal attempt.
Durant has shot better from both inside the arc and beyond it. And he’s been able to get to the free-throw line more often.
eFG% = (FGM + (0.5*3PM)) / FGA
TS% = PTS / (2*(FGA+(0.44*FTA)))
FTA Rate = FTA/FGA
Both players do most of their scoring work on their own. Durant has been assisted on just 48 percent of his field goals, while Bryant has been assisted on just 44 percent of his.
Both Durant and Bryant take a lot of mid-range shots, but Bryant relies on them more. In fact, despite missing seven games this season, he leads the league with 597 shots from between the paint and the arc.
|Restricted area||Other paint||Mid-range||3-point range|
%FGA = Percentage of total field goal attempts
Durant gets to the basket more, in part because he gets out in transition more often. He ranks sixth in the league with 280 fast-break points, which is 16 percent of his total scoring. Bryant’s 146 fast break-points rank 43rd, just 9 percent of his total scoring.
Two stars. Three days to determine who is the league’s leading scorer for the 2011-12 season.