Durant Targets Another Scoring Title, Place In Elusive 50-40-90 Club

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DALLAS – With 15 games to go Kevin Durant remains positioned to capture a fourth consecutive scoring title and could join the ultra-select 50-40-90 club.

His margin for error, however, is slim on both counts.

After recovering from a slow start Sunday to score 31 points on 10-for-19 shooting (2-for-5 on 3-pointers) in a 107-101 win at Dallas, the Oklahoma City Thunder superstar has put together four consecutive games of 50-percent-or-better shooting. That’s critical to Durant’s quest to shoot 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from 3-point range and 90 percent from the free throw line, especially since his overall field-goal percentage and 3-point percentage have slipped since the All-Star break.

Durant is attempting to become just the sixth player in NBA history to accomplish a 50-40-90 season. But Durant is shooting 45.3 percent from the floor (105-for-232) and just 33.3 percent (17-for-51) from beyond the arc in the 14 games since the All-Star break. He’s maintained his free throw shooting, hitting 91.7 percent (122-for-133).

(It should be noted that while his scoring — 24.9 ppg — and shooting percentages have dipped since the All-Star break, Durant has averaged 8.9 rpg and 5.1 apg, both better than his season averages.)

When OKC plays host Tuesday night to the streaking Denver Nuggets, who beat the Thunder on March 1 on Ty Lawson‘s buzzer-beater and limited Durant to 25 points on 9-for-20 shooting (1-for-4 on 3s), Durant will bring shooting percentages of 50.6, 41.1 and 90.8.

His overall field-goal percentage is most vulnerable. A couple of 6-for-19 nights like he had last month against Chicago could ruin his chances.

“I hope so,” Durant said Sunday when asked if he thinks he’s snapping out of this mini-slump. “The Utah game (23 points on 7-for-13 shooting, but 2-for-7 at halftime) was the same way. [Sunday’s] game was the same way. I just got to stick with it. I think I have to be aggressive to start the game. If I do that it gets me in a rhythm a little bit earlier and I have to be able to make shots.”

Against the Mavs, Durant had 12 points on 3-for-9 shooting after three quarters. Then he took over in the fourth with 19 points on 7-for-11 shooting, doing damage with one-on-one brilliance by starting at the top of the circle and beating his man and double-teams.

“I thought at some point in the game he kind of got frustrated a little bit and it was good that he was able to turn it around and just work harder and get some baskets,” Thunder guard Thabo Sefolosha said of Durant. “That was great on him. He showed maturity on his part.”

As for Durant’s pursuit to become the first player to win four consecutive scoring titles since Michael Jordan won seven in a row from 1986-93, his two closest challengers, Carmelo Anthony (sore right knee) and Kobe Bryant (sprained left ankle) are both holding steady, injured and out of action.

Durant leads the league at 28.3 ppg. Anthony, who is unlikely to play for a third consecutive game tonight at Utah, is second at 27.5. Bryant, who missed his first full game of the season on Sunday and isn’t expected to play tonight at Phoenix, is at 27.1. LeBron James  (26.5) and Durant’s former teammate James Harden (26.3) are playing, but each would need a monumental closing kick to catch Durant, who despite his scoring slowdown, has still topped 30 points three times in 10 games this month.

And he showed once again Sunday night at Dallas that just because his first three quarters don’t go great, there’s always the final 12 minutes to get it right.

“The fourth quarter, coach [Scott Brooks] always tell me it’s my time,” Durant said. “I just have to come through.”

26 Comments

  1. Jeff says:

    I don’t think kev Durant gives a rats about the scoring championship or stats. I think winning a title is the only thing that matters to him. Durant is a grownup who isn’t easily pleased like some “stars”

  2. Sam says:

    For the people that are saying how does getting fouls called affect FG%… Because misses don’t count as a FGA when you’re fouled. If you make a shot you get a 1-1 added to the box score. That’s how. Giving phantom calls so his misses aren’t on the box score bringing down his FG%. It’s ridiculous.

  3. Scott says:

    Jordan really won 10 in a row, just 2 seasons he did not play except for a few playoff games

  4. rexloc says:

    @jason page u are crazy durant is the most loyal and probly the best role model in the nba oklahoma express;s his personality perfect.small communities are very loyal to each other and help each other, durant wil be with okc till he is traded or retires.and years ago when he wanted to leave he wasnt a 4 time scoring champ,allstar mvp,and western conference champion and also lbj had no talent around him when he left cleveland ,kd has plenty ,now westbrooke i dont know he seems to have a lot of built up anger towards his team mates.i still believe thunder should have kept harden and dropped west brooke go with more of a playmaker pg.but whats done is done

  5. Rocabye says:

    Durant needs more strength. It would help his drive game so much more. He needs to master that dirk stepback fadeaway.. If he masters that its all he needs as far as post-play is concerned. Lastly he needs to just pull up and shoot the dang ball. Just like in the Olympics, someone needs to tell him to just bloody shoot. When he turns it ON, and its rare that he does, the man is a bucket machine. Its just hard to get him to turn it ON since he’s such a team guy.

  6. Jason Page says:

    Durant is going to bolt to a big market team when his contract is up to just LeBron did! He was drafted as a Sonic and did want to move years ago, just facts… Championship, should have kept Harden, he caused problems for sure

    • Scott says:

      highly doubt it, why would he? They made the finals last year and not everyone is a b**** like Lebron

    • Carl says:

      Please, if LBJ had the supporting cast in CLE that Durant does in OKC LBJ woulda stayed in CLE and won like 3 rings.

  7. ELISEO SORIANO OLDPATH says:

    KEVIN DURANT is like MICHAEL JORDAN at his prime…
    but DURANT needs to have some Muscles in his body…
    BUT…
    MIAMI HEAT ALL DAY….
    –DANIEL RAZON OLDPATH

  8. NBALogics says:

    I think the 3 main things Kevin Durant needs is 20 more pounds of muscle, getting in the post offensively and being a better defender of other elite small forwards. Having a Post game means you have a go too game.

  9. amitpal says:

    I’m calling it right now, durant is about to put some big numbers in the playoffs. He is about to come out of his slump with a bang. I think right now hes a little worried about his percentages whether that riggt or wrong Idk but hey setting record is important to athletes even if they dont admit. Durant game is getting better day by day and I thinl in the playoffs he is going to actually start taking over games like the one last night.

  10. drew says:

    while durant is expert/elite at getting all the way to the rim as well as stand-still jumpshots, i’ve noticed that durant’s “weakness” if you can call it that is that he is not yet an expert/elite pull-up jump-shooter or turnaround jumpshooter like kobe bryant, dirk nowitski, or mj were. this is what is preventing him from being able to dictate game pace and really impose his will on the game the way those guys were able to.

    quick example of what i’m talking about….

    i watched a laker game the other night where late in the game, the other team sent a double team to kobe while he was standing 25 feet from the rim. kobe was just standing there with the ball; he hadn’t begun to make a move yet, and he was being double teamed. why? rather than wait for kobe to drive so the defense can just collapse the way they do with durant, kobe’s pull-up and turnaround jumpshot had been so deadly, that they were doubling him off the catch, just so he couldn’t take another pull-up or turnaround jumper. they were doubling him just to stop a JUMPSHOT. think about that. due to kobe’s elite ability to hit pull-up and turnarounds from the post, kobe often gets to STAND AND KICK, while durant rarely gets to do this, and instead is relegated to the more turnover-prone drive-and-kick.

    this is just one example of how having an elite turnaround and pull-up jumpshot can allow someone like an mj, kobe or dirk, to really impose their will on the game.

    also, getting a healthy dose of post ups would allow okc to dictate game pace better and impose their will on the game. contrastingly, the drive and kick game allows for more runouts and is generally less frustrating/grueling to defend than a great player on the post. the less frustrated the other team is, and the more they can get runouts to gain offensive rhythm, the more confidence the other team has on both ends. i see teams that feed the post a lot have other teams frustrated and off their game. okc doesn’t get the other teams confidence down as much as they should, in part because they allow for too much of a track meet, free-for-all, rather than IMPOSING THEIR WILL ON THE GAME, as they will NEED to do against the better teams.

  11. He is always shooting

  12. googergieger says:

    The league is going to make sure he gets that 50-40-90 thing. Any time he struggles from the field he gets even more free throw attempts than usual. Bad Denver has only played OKC on back to backs this season, but I guarantee you Durant and Westbrook will attempt more free throws than the entire Denver team until it is a manufactured blow out, then the refs will give Denver some throwaway free throws so the total won’t look so lopsided.

    Though when OKC played in Denver and despite the fact Denver attacked the paint more than twice the amount of times OKC did, Westbrook and Durant still attempted more than double the free throw attempts Denver did, so who knows. National Basketball Entertainment doesn’t care as long as their scripted “champions” win.

    • michaelwhudson says:

      Black helicopter alert! NBA Truthers Unite! Also, the Apollo Moon Landing was a Fake! (I saw a documentary: it was all filmed in a studio. OJ Simpson was involved somehow.)

      Durant and Westbrook get lots of free throws because they’re great players and incredibly tough covers who are really good at drawing fouls. I say this not as a fan — I’m almost always rooting against OKC (I love Denver, Miami and Houston) — but as someone who exists on a reality-based plane on the Planet Earth.

      And by the way, getting more trips to the free line only impacts the 90 of the 50-40-90 thing. Durant’s still got to step out there and hit his FGs and 3 pointers with hands on his face.

      • googergieger says:

        Durant and Westbrook are better at drawing fouls than the entire Denver Nuggets team that leads the league in points in the paint by a dominating amount?

        Anyways, Durant is one for three. Instead of going one for five, he gets phantom calls called for him and goes to the line and stays at one for three. Make sense? Makes sense.

      • 34yr fan says:

        ……Oh, they get more free throws than other players because they are THAT much better than Anyone else….’cept for ‘Bron-Bron’ ……..thanks for pointing that out………LOL PS: Mike, in life things aren’t Always like they seem……. besides, I guess you haven’t heard of former ref Terry D. ‘s published book on the subject……..just keep on being inculcated with the company line and think you “know something” ……. just sayin’

    • dirk45 says:

      I don’t see how more free throws will up the FG%.
      BTW you should have mentioned the other five players: Steve Nash (4), Larry Bird (2), Mark Price, Reggie Miller and Dirk Nowitzki.

    • ballhawk says:

      That’s ridiculous. How would giving Durant more free throws ensure that he shoots 50% from the field and 40% from behind the arc? How would it ensure that he shoots 90% from the free throw line, for that matter? Of course the league wants Durant to be an ultra super-star ala Lebron James, or better yet, Michael Jordan, because it makes people excited about the game and leads to more money, but there is no way that anyone except Durant can actually attain those percentages. The scoring title is a different story, theoretically, but I doubt there’s really a conspiracy to keep Kobe Bryant or Carmelo Anthony (who both play for teams with much bigger markets) from taking the scoring title. What the league will do is make a huge deal about how incredible this feat is, if it is accomplished (hence this article on nba.com).

    • amitpal says:

      U know just driving to the basket doesnt give u fouls u actually need to know how to get fouled. Durant is extremely good at knowing how to get fouled. Some of it has to do with his long arm but he know how to get to the line. Same with other all stars like melo or lebron or kobe. Those guys know how to get to the line. The only guy who knows how to get fouls on denver is andre miller. The rest of the squad is just a bunch of young guys recklessly driving to the paint. They dont go at the body of defenders they avoid the contact.

      • googergieger says:

        He flops? He knows how to flop? He knows how to be named Kevin Durant and flop like he’s getting mauled by a two hundred pound Lion regardless of who is around him so he gets free throws because referee’s can see a six foot one fifty guard around him, while Durant “attacks the rim” loses the ball, throws his arms in the air, and curse at them, and come out with the only logical conclusion of, clearly that six foot one hundred and fifty pound guard has telekinesis and is using it to attack Kevin Durant!

        Is that what you are saying?

      • 34yr fan says:

        ……good on 3G….. you hit the nail on the head !!

    • bullsfan0218 says:

      Just because they’re getting a lot of points in the paint doesn’t mean that they are drawing a lot of fouls. Denver gets its points by outrunning opposing teams and jumping over everybody with their athleticism. Durant and Westbrook draw a lot of fouls because a lot of the time they are cutting through defense that is already set and taking contact on the way to the rim, as apposed to blowing past everybody on fast breaks as much as Denver does