In a 112-95 Oklahoma City Thunder victory over the Miami Heat at AmericanAirlines Arena on Wednesday night, much talk was centered on the one-on-one battle between front running MVP candidates Kevin Durant and LeBron James. In a three-minute span near the end of the third quarter, the two went mano-y-mano with James scoring four baskets and Durant getting three of his own.
Overall, James’ final tally of 34 points would barely outlast Durant’s 33, but getting a road victory against the team that knocked them out of the 2012 NBA Finals was the bigger prize for the Thunder. Durant compared the one-on-one shootout with James to a classic pugilistic confrontation.
“People are talking about this like it’s a prize fight, like it’s an old Ali fight," said Durant, who extended his streak of games with 30 points or more to 12. “But it’s not like that. It’s not a game of one-on-one. You want to see that? We can do that in the summer, get me and LeBron together out on a court somewhere and we’ll go one-on-one. But that’s not what’s going on here."
Fans may get an even earlier opportunity than summertime to witness more of these mini one-on-one battles as Durant and James will find themselves representing the Western Conference and Eastern Conference respectively during the All-Star Game on Feb. 16. If that’s not enough, the two teams will meet again four days later on Feb. 20 in Oklahoma City.
Depending on how the playoff picture looks come June, Durant and James could be facing each other in the NBA Finals with Ali versus Frazier-like stakes for the championship.