Two years ago, Kevin Durant swore he was not like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.
At that point, Durant didn’t consider himself such a deadly scorer that he could drop 15 to 20 points in a quarter like those other stars seem to do with such ease.
That was then.
Durant, who is headed for back-to-back scoring titles, is now scoring in bunches.
The Thunder’s star enters tonight’s game at Denver as the league leader in double-digit scoring quarters. Durant has scored at least 10 points in 35 quarters this season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Golden State’s Monta Ellis ranks second with 34 10-point quarters, Bryant is third with 33 and James is fourth with 30.
Here’s another way of looking at Durant’s scoring as we sit at the midway mark of the season. Durant scores at least 10 points in a quarter once every four quarters.
For as cold-blooded as Durant was as a scorer prior to this season, he had yet to consistently peel off such huge scoring quarters. But this season, we’re seeing Durant’s scoring dominance evolve.
“I just try to capitalize on every opportunity I get,” Durant said.
Durant’s best quarter so far this season has been the opening period. In the first frame, Durant is averaging 9.4 points. And he’s shooting 50.8 percent. Much of the reason for his high scoring in the first period can be explained by his 11.8 average minutes in first quarters. Durant’s numbers dip considerably in the second quarter, slipping to 4.6 points largely because his minutes fall to an average of 7.5. His 41.6 percent shooting in second quarters is much more inexplicable.
But Durant’s overall second half scoring total, roughly a 14-point average, is nearly identical to first half production. Always a good sign.
“That’s my game,” Durant said. “A lot of people might say I need to pass more or I need to play defense more. But I score the basketball.”
And, of course, Durant is aiming to make them fall when it counts — in the fourth quarter.
“I’ve really been trying to focus on being a good fourth-quarter scorer,” Durant said. “I try to do those other things. But I want to be a good fourth-quarter scorer. And I think lately I’ve been doing a better job of being more locked in and more focused and not forcing it.”
It’s been a challenge for Durant to maintain his fourth-quarter scoring effectiveness. Defenses are doubling Durant to force the ball out of his hands. For the most part, Durant has adjusted well and found open teammates.
“If I see a right pass, try and make that pass,” Durant explained. “If I see an opening, try to score. Like I said, that’s my game. I’m just trying to watch film and get better in the areas I need to get better at, and just lean on my teammates as much as possible.”