Can the Bulls keep Kevin Durant in check?

Can the Bulls keep Kevin Durant in check?
March 17, 2014, 8:00 am
Mark Strotman

The NBA's MVP frontrunner has taken his scoring prowess to new heights in his seventh NBA season, and it's got him accomplishing feats the league hasn't seen since Michael Jordan. He'll bring that silky jump shot to the United Center as the Bulls host the Thunder on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins at 6:30 with Bulls Pregame Live, hosted by Mark Schanowski and Will Perdue.

Kevin Durant is a scoring machine.

He's currently riding one of the best scoring stretches the NBA has seen in decades. He has scored at least 25 points in 30 straight games, the first time a player has accomplished that feat since Jordan did it in 1986-87. Durant has averaged 35.0 points per game on 52 percent shooting in that span, helping the Thunder to a 48-18 record in the difficult Western Conference.

He leads the NBA in scoring this season (31.8 points per game), nearly four full points ahead of Carmelo Anthony (28.0) and more than five points better than LeBron James (26.7).

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And he's done it a variety of ways.

Per Sport VU statistics on NBA.com, Durant is fourth in the NBA in pull-up jump shot field goal percentage (43.3%), fifth in field goal percentage on drives (58.9%) and eighth in the NBA on shots near the basket (68.4%). The statistics show what we already knew — that Durant can score from anywhere on the court and do it at an incredibly efficient rate.

But it hasn't been just the scoring that has made Durant an even more dynamic player.

Through 34 games this season, Durant was averaging 4.9 assists, a career-best mark that meshed well with his 29.0 points per game. But in his 30-game stretch of historic scoring, he's also averaging 6.3 assists. Four times in that stretch he has tallied double-digit assists, and he has three triple-doubles this season — matching his total from last year and, for that matter, his entire career.

His 5.6 assists per game this season have produced 13.0 points per game, meaning Durant has been responsible for nearly 45 points per game, more than 42 percent of the Thunder's 105.8 points per game.

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The NBA's sixth most efficient offense is run by the game's best scorer who's also passing better than ever and beginning to mesh well with Russell Westbrook, who has played only 35 games this season after knee surgery. The Thunder are just 5-5 in their last 10 games, but with Durant playing as well as ever he's one 40-plus point explosion from getting his team a win on any given night.

The Bulls will try to slow down Durant tonight on Comcast SportsNet. And after the contest, stick with Comcast SportsNet for Bulls Postgame Live, where we'll have highlights, analysis and reaction from Tom Thibodeau and the rest of the Bulls. Also, stay interactive throughout the evening on social media by checking out Bulls Pulse, using #BullsTalk on Twitter to join the conversation.