LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant: The Race for NBA MVP

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

It’s no secret that the two best players in the NBA are Kevin Durant and LeBron James, and it has been that way for a few years now. Last night proved that these two players are the class of the NBA, and they provide nothing short of excitement whenever they face off.

Heading into last night’s game, Durant had been 3-13 against James in his career (including postseason), which includes a 4-2 series defeat in the 2012 NBA Finals. In those 16 games, Durant has averaged 29.5 PPG while James averaged 28.3 PPG. Playing against the Miami Heat has been a daunting task for KD throughout his career, but after last night’s game, it looks as though things may be turning around for him and his team.

The Heat opened the game on a 22-4 run and all signs pointed to another victory for Miami. The Oklahoma City Thunder stormed back however, and took a five point lead heading into halftime. The game got a little out of hand at one point in the second half with the Thunder being up by 25 points. They ended up winning the game by 17.

The main talking point in this game were the punches that James and Durant were throwing back and forth at each other throughout the game. There was one sequence in the third quarter where James came down and pulled up over Durant, rattling in a long two-pointer. Durant came right back down, gave James a little “shimmy” and pulled up with a 3-pointer as an answer.

After the game, he was asked what was going through his mind during that sequence and he said, “Rucker Park. That’s what was going through my mind.” Durant was referring to a game in 2012 in which he scored 66 points in a pickup game at Rucker Park in New York City.

Before the game, James, who has won four of the past five MVP awards, stated that “no one can guard him (Durant) one-on-one.” Judging by his numbers this year, especially from the tear that he has been on lately (scoring 30-plus PPG in 12 consecutive games), it is hard to deny James’ statement. Durant finished the game with 33 points, only to be outdone by James, who scored 34. The important thing for Durant was that his team came away with a victory.

As the NBA approaches the All-Star break, the NBA MVP race is intensifying. Headed by Durant and James, other names that are thought to be in the conversation include Paul George of the Indiana Pacers, LaMarcus Aldridge of the Portland Trail Blazers and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors. That said, there is a consensus at this point that the award will come down to either Durant or James.

Looking at the way Durant has been playing this year, especially as of late, there is no denying that he is the front-runner for what could be his first ever MVP award. What is even more impressive is that he is carrying his team without the presence of All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook as the Thunder are currently riding a nine-game win streak.

The second half of the season should see an intense MVP race. Durant and James will meet again in Oklahoma City on February 20.

Jared Goltz is a writer for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @jar3d_, or find him on Facebook or Google

Until that rematch, you can see LeBron take on the rest of the NBA by getting your Heat tickets here.

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