It's Carmelo Anthony vs. Kevin Durant and Knicks vs. Thunder on Sunday
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With less than two weeks to go in the regular season, it's come down to .045 points per game. That's the margin by which the Thunder's Kevin Durant -- the NBA's three-time defending scoring champion -- leads the Knicks' Carmelo Anthony as the two go head-to-head Sunday in Oklahoma City.
Durant, who has six games left, is averaging 28.368 points. Anthony, who has seven left, is at 28.323. (Durant has scored 400 more points in 14 more games, an average of 28.571.)
It will be the first time this season that the two will face each other. Anthony was out with a knee injury when Durant scored 34 points as the Thunder edged the Knicks, 95-94, on March 7.
Only two players -- Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain -- have ever won four consecutive scoring titles. And as much as any player would love to join their elite company, Durant told a reporter before Oklahoma City's victory over Indiana Friday night that he isn't focusing on winning the scoring title.
"He can have it," Durant told Jeff Caplan of NBA.com. "I mean the stuff Carmelo is doing right now, every time he touches the ball, it looks like it's going to go in. He's having a nice little run right now and his confidence is high. I'm sure he's going to take over. If it happens, cool . . . I'm just going to play my game . . . if it's meant to be, then it will happen."
Though Durant's comments are a bit surprising, it's hard to argue with his assessment of Anthony's play. He has scored at least 40 points in three straight games, matching the Knicks record set by Bernard King during the 1984-85 season. Anthony -- who is averaging 43.7 points and shooting 64.2 percent in the three games -- is the first player to score at least 40 points and shoot better than 60 percent in three straight games since Jordan did it in 1991.
After missing six games in an eight-game span and having fluid drained from his knee, Anthony has averaged 32.4 points in 10 games, playing a major part in the Knicks' 11-game winning streak.
"It's April, I guess," he said about his hot streak. "I always just take it back to my knee. I think the most important thing was that we took care and got to the bottom of that and we've gotten back to where we were playing prior to the weeks where my knee was bothering me."
Anthony and the Knicks see Sunday's game as one of their biggest tests. The Thunder has won six of seven, with its last two wins coming against San Antonio and Indiana. Still, the Knicks don't exactly sound intimidated.
"We feel confident that we owe this team," Raymond Felton said. "We still had a lot of guys out, which we did when we played them, and it's going to be a tough environment . . . But we're rolling right now. We have all the confidence in ourselves and in our teammates."