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Can Carmelo Anthony End Kevin Durant's Monopoly on Scoring Titles?

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 10:  Carmelo Anthony #15 of United States reacts in the second half after making a three-pointer with teammate Kevin Durant #5 while taking on Argentina during the Men's Basketball semifinal match on Day 14 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the North Greenwich Arena on August 10, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
Lars Baron/Getty Images
Grant HughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistApril 5, 2013

Kevin Durant is just inches away from extending his NBA-scoring-title streak to four straight seasons, but Carmelo Anthony may not be ready to concede the crown just yet.

Before we get into whether Melo has a shot to unseat KD—and what he'd have to do to pull off the trick—a brief history lesson might help crystallize what's really at stake here.

Only two other NBA players have ever won four consecutive scoring titles: a couple of guys named Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan. That potent duo each logged seven consecutive seasons as the league's top point producer. At age 24, it'd be remarkable for Durant to join their ranks.

Now that we've moved past the history section, here comes the math. Don't worry, calculators are allowed.

If Anthony averages just 31 points per game over his final eight contests, he'll finish the season with a scoring average of 28.4 points per game. That'll be good enough to overtake Durant—as long as KD only averages 28 points per game over the Oklahoma City Thunder's last seven contests.

Based on their numbers over the course of this season, those are both reasonable scoring outputs to expect from Anthony and Durant.

But if we assume that the New York Knicks gunner is going to play the rest of the season in the fashion he's established in his two April contests, the scoring race could be over rather quickly.

Anthony has totaled 90 points in the Knicks' two most recent games, shooting an average of 26.5 times per contest and knocking in a ridiculous 66 percent of his shots from the field and from long range.

Meanwhile, Durant has stayed quietly consistent, averaging 27.6 points per game in March and posting just 25 in the Thunder's 100-88 win over the San Antonio Spurs on April 4.

And for what it's worth, Durant doesn't seem to care a whole lot about securing his fourth scoring title. According to Jeff Caplan of NBA.com, he said:

He can have it...I mean the stuff he’s doing right now, every time he touches the ball it looks like it’s going to go in. He’s having a nice run right now and his confidence is high. I’m sure he’s going to take over. If it happens, cool.

 

KD says that now, but as Anthony continues to close the gap, the competitor in him might force a change of attitude.

Both the Knicks and Thunder have plenty to play for down the stretch. OKC is now just a half-game behind the Spurs for the No. 1 spot in the West, while the Knicks are in search of their first Atlantic Division title in nearly 20 years and hold just a half-game advantage over the Indiana Pacers for the second seed in the East.

So it seems unlikely that either star will be taking a break during the season's final couple of weeks.

Ultimately, it'd only take a slight scoring uptick from Anthony—about three points per game—to overtake a coasting Durant. But if KD decides he really does want to go after the crown that has belonged to him for the last three seasons, everybody knows just how devastating a scorer No. 35 can be.

Amidst all of the teams trying to climb over one another for playoff seeding, the individual battle between the league's two top scorers has the potential to be the most entertaining race of all. There's no question that Anthony can pump in enough points to get the job done.

What remains to be seen is whether Durant will let him.

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