- Dave McMenamin, ESPN.com
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Aside from Sunday's Lakers-Thunder game having major implications on playoff seeding as the Lakers are trying to hold off the Clippers for the No. 3 spot while the Thunder are trying to catch the Spurs for first place in the West, there is another race at stake: the scoring title.
Kobe Bryant leads the league in scoring with a 27.89 points per game average. Kevin Durant is hot on his heels, averaging 27.79 points. Bryant has held the lead for the majority of the season after reeling off four straight 40-point games in January, but Durant could be in position for a come-from-behind victory as Bryant assimilates himself back into the Lakers' offense in the final two regular season games after missing seven games with a left shin injury.
Bryant scored 18 points on 7-for-12 shooting Friday in his first game back from injury, a 121-97 loss to the San Antonio Spurs. Durant comes into Sunday averaging 31.3 points on his last four games on 53.9 percent shooting. He scored 29 points on 9-for-15 shooting in a 103-92 win over the Sacramento Kings on Friday.
Bryant downplayed the significance what adding another scoring title to his laundry list of career accolades would mean.
"(It's) not very important," Bryant said. "San Antonio was playing me single coverage yesterday, if it was important I would have gone for 50 yesterday.
Durant, 23, has captured the last two scoring titles, giving him two scoring titles in his first four years in the league. Bryant, 33, has just two scoring titles in his first 15 seasons, winning it back-to-back titles when he averaged 35.4 points per game in 2006, and 31.6 points per game in 2007.
It would seem like some sort of victory against Father Time if Bryant ends up being able to stave off Durant for the scoring title. His season is already historically great as his 27.9 points per game average will supplant Karl Malone's 23.4 points per game in 2000-01 fro the highest scoring average for a player in his 16th season in NBA history.
However, Bryant maintained that a third scoring title is not something he is particularly motivated to attain.
"You guys now know I can get it," Bryant said. "I’m not really tripping about it."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.
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