Video: The Brief Playground Duel Between Kevin Durant & LeBron James

01.30.14 5 years ago

Both platitudes and ample evidence denotes the NBA as a team sport, and the Oklahoma City Thunder team turned last night’s much-hyped battle between two of the league’s primary MVP candidates into a blowout. But during a stretch to end the third quarter, it turned into a one-on-one duel — that made basketball bloggers drool — between LeBron James and Kevin Durant, with both players knocking down shots so fast we could barely catch our breath.

The Heat jumped out to an 18-point lead in the first quarter, but the Thunder buckled down on defense and got back into the game after a curiously sloppy performance by the defending champs and even took a five-point lead into halftime. The Heat were turning the ball over, and the Thunder were taking full advantage with an endless string of 4-on-3 and 3-on-2 fast break opportunities. But nothing could have prepared the NBA on ESPN audience for what transpired with a little under three minutes remaining in the third quarter.

The Thunder had pushed their lead to near double-figures at this point, and KD was starting to get hot. But LeBron James wasn’t laying down either. The two exchanged baskets and scored 14 points between them in a two minute stretch towards the end of the third session.

While there was plenty of dead-eye shooting from both, KD’s three-pointer with the Thunder leading by eleven seemed to be the final stake through the heart of James and the Heat.

KD was certainly amped.

The Thunder cruised to a 112-95 win during a low-scoring fourth quarter, but this sliver of one-on-one showmanship had all of us on our feet. The two best players in the world were presenting ample evidence why this year’s MVP race is a two-man affair, and no matter what you call him — Durantula, Slim Reaper, or KD — Kevin Durant is in the driver’s seat after last night’s exhibition.

What do you think?

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