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Kobe can take NBA scoring title from Durant… if he wants it

Apr 25, 2012, 9:57 AM EDT

Kobe Bryant Kevin Durant Getty Images

When Kobe Bryant steps on the court Thursday night against the Sacramento Kings, we will know exactly how many points he needs to score to win one of the closest NBA scoring title races ever over Kevin Durant.

Both men say they don’t want it. Both men say all they want is a ring. Both men are also fiery competitive and don’t back down from a challenge. We’ll see if when push comes to shove the next couple days if they can turn that fire down.

As of right now, two-time defending scoring champ Durant is averaging 27.97 points per game to Bryant’s 27.86.

Durant and his Thunder play Wednesday night at home against the Nuggets. The Thunder are locked in at the two seed, the game means nothing to them. The Lakers are locked in to the three seed and Thursday’s game for them is meaningless. The Oklahoman did the math and breaks down who has to score how much to win the title.

But if Durant scores less than 30, Bryant will have to top Durant’s output by at least seven points. If Durant posts more than 30, Bryant must outscore Durant by at least six. The necessary differential would narrow more the more each player scores. The discrepancy is caused by Bryant playing seven fewer games. The scoring title is determined by scoring average.

So if Durant finishes at his average of 28 points, Kobe will have to score 35. On the season, Kobe has averaged 33.5 points per game against the Kings.

The real question is will Kobe go after it? There is no doubt that even if he has to score 40 something he can get it — even if he has to take 40 shots to do it — and if he wants it Mike Brown will leave him in and his teammates will get out of his way.

The question is, will he? Here is what he told ESPNLA.com a few days ago.

“(It’s) not very important,” Bryant said. “San Antonio was playing me single coverage yesterday, if it was important I would have gone for 50 yesterday.”

I have no doubt he means it. But can he turn off that desire to win if he just needs 10 more points midway through the third quarter Thursday?

  1. karlton2 - Apr 25, 2012 at 10:55 AM

    Kevin Durant has scored ~200 points more this season than Kobe Bryant. Therefore, Durant wins the scoring title.

    • smoothaswilkes - Apr 25, 2012 at 11:07 AM

      That’s not how it works. It goes by average points over a minimum of games. KD will have played 6 more games over the course of the season than Kobe, hence the total point difference.

      • karlton2 - Apr 25, 2012 at 11:17 AM

        I understand that, I just think it’s stupid.

        At that point, we should probably start adjusting for minutes played as well. Maybe take into consideration the strength of team defenses they have faced too.

        Scoring Title should = Who Scores More. Period.

      • dirtydavis - Apr 25, 2012 at 12:33 PM

        @Karlton2… just STFU and enjoy the game

    • Mr. Wright 212 - Apr 25, 2012 at 12:31 PM

      That’s why you’re commenting on a blog and not working for Elias. Your rationale is foolish.

    • skids003 - Apr 25, 2012 at 12:47 PM

      Mr. Ego WILL go for it, if he has to take 100 shots, he’ll do it. With that ego, he can’t help it.

      • florida727 - Apr 25, 2012 at 1:36 PM

        Completely agree. He doesn’t want to be known as the guy who finished SECOND in one of, if not the, closest scoring races ever. If he has to ice his elbow between quarters, he’ll get it. Would be funny to watch Durant put up 50 or 60 on Wednesday night, then see what Kobe does :)

    • progress2011 - Apr 26, 2012 at 2:44 PM

      Karlton, at the time of my post, you have 104 thumbs down !!! ahahahahaha.

      This msnbc blog is laker nation. Anyone that has the intestinal fortitude to slap them with the truth, will be swiftly given AT LEAST 50 thumbs down, immediately because there are 50 regulars, that check the site on the hour.

      I provided additional facts below, such as:

      1. kobe is at 43% shooting accuracy, while Durant is at 49.5%
      2. kobe has taken 39 more shots than Durant, before the game tonight but trail in scoring by 234 points.

      Total number of points, shooting accuracy / shooting percentage should count for something.

      A guy shouldn’t be able to jack up as many shots as he wants, trail in total points and shooting percentage, then sit out 6 games, to work the system, to win the scoring title.

      Totally Bogus !!!

  2. tyelaw18 - Apr 25, 2012 at 11:16 AM

    Karlton2, So starlin Castro had the most hits last year , he won the batting title? Not, Cmon man b smarter than that!

  3. fouldwimmerlaik - Apr 25, 2012 at 11:40 AM

    Kobe can do ANYTHING he wants to do. That is all there is to it. I already have my Kobe Bryant Action Figure – Playoff Edition front and center of my collection. Nobody can beat Kobe. You only win if he lets you win.

    • lyndseymarieee - Apr 25, 2012 at 11:43 AM

      kobe is good. but he can be beaten. he doesn’t “let” people win. he’s too much of a competitor for that.

      • fouldwimmerlaik - Apr 25, 2012 at 12:09 PM

        I respectfully disagree. KOBE CAN DO ANYTHING HE WANTS. He is just such a great person and humanitarian that he will sometimes let other players/teams win. That is Kobe. Gosh, I love him.

        I can’t wait for the playoffs to begin. I won’t leave my parent’s basement until the Lakers (well, really, KOBE) wins it all or decides to let some other team advance.

      • slopmcflop - Apr 25, 2012 at 12:27 PM

        Cracking me up over here fouldwimmerlaik.

      • fouldwimmerlaik - Apr 25, 2012 at 2:02 PM

        I am just expressing my KobeLove.

  4. reastnt - Apr 25, 2012 at 11:57 AM

    Interestingly, if Durant scores 100, Kobe would only need 101 to win the title. (Actually the one-point margin begins at 78/79.)

    And if Durant scores 0, Kobe needs 10.

    More fun with numbers: It is theoretically possible for player A to have a higher scoring average than player B every season in their careers (could be the same seasons or different seasons), yet player B ends up with a higher lifetime scoring average. Rather counterintuitive….

    • pglive21 - Apr 25, 2012 at 1:12 PM

      Can you please explain that? If player A and player B play the same amount of seasons, how exactly is that possible?

      • florida727 - Apr 25, 2012 at 1:38 PM

        It’s not. Question answered.

      • reastnt - Apr 25, 2012 at 6:05 PM

        The quick explanation is that it’s possible if the players don’t play the same numbers of games every season. (In probability, this is known as Simpson’s Paradox – look it up.) Here’s an example where player A has a lower scoring average each of four seasons than player B, but player A still has the higher lifetime scoring average:

        Year Games Points Average
        1 A 80 1960.0 24.50
        B 82 2050.0 25.00

        2 A 70 1820.0 26.00
        B 82 2173.0 26.50

        3 A 72 1584.0 22.00
        B 82 1845.0 22.50

        4 A 82 2624.0 32.00
        B 60 1926.0 32.10

        CAREER A 304 7988.0 26.28
        B 306 7994.0 26.12

      • pglive21 - Apr 26, 2012 at 9:56 AM

        Makes sense, thanks for the explanation.

    • xelcid - Apr 25, 2012 at 1:41 PM

      “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” – Mark Twain

  5. patsfan15 - Apr 25, 2012 at 12:33 PM

    KD played more games that’s why he scored more points it’s a pretty simple concept. It’s based on average ppg during the season with a minimum number of games played. Use your head people

  6. loungefly74 - Apr 25, 2012 at 12:37 PM

    I can see Kobe wanting this more. As his career enters the backend, any hardware is a bonus. I hope he gets it.

  7. lawest111 - Apr 25, 2012 at 1:25 PM

    Lakers have locked-up the Pacific Division and third seed, this is a meaningless game. If Mike Brown plays Kobe, which he shouldn’t, it will likely be for a quarter or so to keep him sharp. This is the smart course of action, but you never know.

  8. davidly - Apr 25, 2012 at 1:27 PM

    It won’t be that Durant has made more shots, though one could place a greater value on it, if one so chose; or that Durant took less shots to make them, certainly an argument for scoring efficiency, perhaps even pure prolificness; no, it will be that Durant will have the higher average per game Friday morning that will lead to his being declared the scoring champion.

    Big deal. Until one of them shoots a higher percentage than what Durant is averaging this year for his entire career, AND average more than 30 a game, they’ll just be playing second fiddle to the master.

  9. florida727 - Apr 25, 2012 at 1:42 PM

    I realize there’s a big difference between college and the pros, but this (sort of) puts into perspective what Pete Maravich did in averaging 44+ per game for his college CAREER… without a three-point line.

    • reastnt - Apr 25, 2012 at 6:27 PM

      What about Wilt’s 50.4 per game in the NBA??! Not to mention 25.7 rebounds per game.

      • reastnt - Apr 25, 2012 at 6:28 PM

        In the ’61-62 season, that is.

  10. ludachrisgsx - Apr 25, 2012 at 2:13 PM

    What is Kobe to do? If he goes for it, he reinforces that ball hog image for all his critics – yet nobody will be calling Durant a ball hog if he wins it. If he doesn’t go for it, he loses out on a pretty respectable award at this stage of his career. He’s been playing strong and fairly consistent all year (even with injuries early on in the season) and deserves the scoring title.

  11. jolink653 - Apr 25, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    at this point in time durant > kobe in terms of scoring

  12. progress2011 - Apr 26, 2012 at 8:16 AM

    The Bottom Line :

    kobe – Field Goal Attempts- 1336, Field Goals Made- 574, Total Points- 1616, Shooting %- 43%

    Durant- Field Goal Attempts- 1297, Field Goals Made- 643, Total Points- 1850, Shooting %- 49.59%

    kobe has taken 39 more shots, before the game tonight but trails in total points by 234 points

    Durant leads kobe by almost 7% points, in shooting accuracy.

    So, unless kobe can score more than 234 points and improve his ball hawk percentage by 7% points, Durant is the scoring title winner.

    The ” funny math/ criteria” used to determine the scoring champ is skewed, at best. Number of shots taken and Field Goal percentage should count for something.

  13. omniusprime - Apr 26, 2012 at 8:52 AM

    Go Kobe! Only need 38 points to beat Durant for the scoring title. Time for Kobe to job Durant for the scoring title. Kobe deserves it since he led most of the season in scoring average and Durant passed him only on the last weekend. Kobe also deserves MVP award but most likely the dimwitted who choose won’t give it to him.

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