Thanks to Thunder coach Scott Brooks, Kevin Durant is now in a dead heat with New York's Carmelo Anthony for this year's scoring title.
Durant is averaging 28.5614 points per game, while Anthony is averaging 28.5319.
No telling how big Durant's lead would be if Brooks hadn't made him sit out 12 fourth quarters so far this season.
Benching No. 12 came Wednesday night as the Thunder lambasted the New Orleans Hornets 119-74 at Chesapeake Energy Arena
A lack of fourth-quarter playing time has hindered Durant's quest to join Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain as the only NBA players to win at least four consecutive scoring titles. Jordan and Chamberlain each won seven straight scoring crowns.
Durant was superb for the 27 minutes Brooks allowed him to play, finishing with 18 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for his third triple-double of the season and his second in the last four games.
Told afterward his lead over Anthony had dwindled to nothing, Durant was typical Durant.
“Nah, it's all good,” he said, after trying to at least act upset for roughly 0.3 seconds.
With his team leading the NBA handily in point differential, Brooks wisely continues to sit his starters whenever possible this season.
Starting point guard Russell Westbrook has sat the entire fourth quarter 13 times because of routs, center Kendrick Perkins and Durant have sat 12 times, forward Serge Ibaka has sat 10 final periods and guard Thabo Sefolosha has sat eight.
By comparison, San Antonio's Tim Duncan has sat out 11 fourth quarters and teammate Tony Parker has sat 10, but one of those occasions was a 107-93 loss at OKC on Dec. 17. Miami's LeBron James and Chris Bosh have sat six final periods.
Brooks has been able to sit his starters the entire final stanza because the Thunder's second unit has either held or extended comfortable leads in those contests.
“It is good for our team, good for our legs, and especially good for it being late in the year,” said Westbrook, who had 29 points in 26 minutes Wednesday before he, Durant and Perkins were instructed to take a seat with 4:01 still remaining in the third quarter.
Brooks said he wasn't aware Durant was near a triple-double until he learned Durant needed only one more assist.
“I just focus on playing good basketball and getting the win,” Brooks said. “I don't care who scores, who makes the plays. I care about who plays defense and who commits to that end of the floor because I know that if we do that we're going to put ourselves in a position to win.
“KD has the potential to get a triple-double many nights.”
Durant sheepishly admitted he knew what he needed to seal the double-digit trifecta thanks to his ever-growing friendship with the game's stat crew.
“I've got a good relationship with those guys at the scorer's table,” Durant said with a grin. “We laugh and joke all the time and tonight they told me I was one assist away.
“When you've got a triple-double, people think it's just about the guy who gets it. Teammates make so many great plays to put you in position to do that. It's not just me. My teammates made me look good tonight.”
Until Brooks sent Durant to the bench.