Matt Moore of CBSSports.com on the MVP race: “Voting Durant is a vote for a different, younger player, a recognition of his ascendance. Voting Anthony is about rewarding a player for improving and doing it in New York. (No, that should not matter, but like I said, some of this is awful.) Voting for Paul is a lifetime achievement award deal. Voting for LeBron is voting for the best player in the league, and who wants that? So there you have it. 3-3 LeBron vs. Durant. But Durant’s second-place votes give him an edge there. Let’s be clear, though. Durant has played at a phenomenal level, and honestly, if he played like this last season, he might have been the leader. I’m keeping James at the top based on the totality of his play, but Durant’s improved rebounding and overwhelming scoring punch makes this exceptionally tight. And a very fun race.”
OKC stayed No. 1 in Marc Stein’s power rankings: “A true privilege to be in the building for Durant’s 52 points. A mild surprise, too, even after KD’s 40 against Dallas in December, since he showed up with a career scoring average of just 22.4 ppg against the Mavs — and a FG percentage of .413 — for his lifetime lows against any franchise.”
NBA.com dropped OKC to No. 3: “The Thunder have split the first two games of their six-game road trip, both of which went to overtime. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for 156 points in the two games, but Westbrook’s two blocks on Rocky the Mountain Lion was the best job OKC did of defending the basket all weekend. Tuesday brings a showdown with the Clips for first place in the West.”
KD was named Western Conference Player of the Week.
Anthony Slater of NewsOK on KD and 20,000 points: “As of Monday, Kevin Durant is 24 years and 113 days old. His birthday is September 29th. That means, his cut-off date for the 20,000-point record would be Oct., 16, 2016, when he’d be the exact same age LeBron was last Wednesday in Oakland. D has scored 11,187 points up to this point in his career, counting the 37 he dropped last night in Denver. Including the 41 games left this season, there will be 287 regular season contests before the 2016-17 season starts in late October, days after Durant will have hit the deadline date. So KD has 287 games to score 8,813 points. That’s 30.7 points per game (at a minimum), a number he’s yet to hit during a full season at any point in his career (30.1 is his highest). He’s averaging 29.5 points per game this year. It’s certainly not impossible, but at this point seems unlikely. He’s going to need to stay freakishly healthy (something he’s done so far) and start scoring at an even higher rate. Not saying he isn’t capable, but not betting on it either.”
Jeremy Lamb and Daniel Orton have been assigned to the 66ers.
Jenni Carlson: “Russell Westbrook snagged the loose ball and heaved it toward the goal in the final frantic seconds at Denver. The shot never got above his waist. Swatted away. Can you say karma? On Sunday night when the Thunder point guard became Public Enemy No. 1 in the Mile High City, he swatted away not one but two halfcourt shot attempts by … wait for it … the Nuggets’ mascot. Yes, the mascot. And I don’t get the feeling like Westbrook regrets it in the least. He’s embarking on a West Coast swing that will pit him against Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, Isaiah Thomas and Steve Nash. Here’s betting a little extra mojo will come in handy, even at the expense of a giant stuffed animal.”
Zach Lowe of Grantland on All-Star reserves: “Ibaka has improved on both ends, but the jump has been higher on offense, where he gets to work as a third cog around two stars who bend defenses away from him. He has a fairly low usage rate for an All-Star candidate, and though he’s more solid on defense this season, he can still struggle with positioning against shooting power forwards — and against pump fakes. In a crowded field, he’s a painful final cut.”