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Scoring superstars face off on Sunday

The title for best scorer on the planet will be up for grabs on Sunday afternoon.

Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant, the hottest scorer in the NBA, faces off against Knicks star Carmelo Anthony, last year’s NBA scoring champ, in front of a national audience.

Durant and Anthony are 1-2 in the scoring race this season. But it doesn’t seem like this year’s race will come down to the final days of the season, as it did last year.

Durant will take the court Sunday with a scoring average of 31 points per game. Anthony is at 27.4 points per game after scoring 31 in 33 minutes against Denver on Friday.

Durant’s numbers this year -- and the Thunder’s success -- have caught the attention of the rest of the league.

He’s scored at least 25 points in 17 straight games and has scored at least 30 points in 30 games this season.

The next-highest 30-point scorer is LeBron James with 17. Durant is also averaging a career-high 5.5 assists and 7.6 rebounds.

“Spectacular season,” Anthony said. “Just top to bottom, everything he’s doing, the way guys are actually putting him in position to succeed. He keeps getting better. That’s something that I love about him. He keeps getting better. He works hard, and he’s going to continue getting better in this league.”

The Thunder have won seven of the past nine meetings with the Knicks, including a 29-point win on Christmas Day. But Anthony is 11-1 lifetime against Durant. He missed the Christmas Day game due to an ankle injury.

Anthony has been on a Durant-esque streak lately. In his past eight games, Anthony is averaging 33.6 points on 51 percent shooting. He’s hitting 44 percent of his 3.

Carmelo Anthony vs. Kevin Durant this season

“They got to guard Melo and our crew, too,” Mike Woodson said after the Knicks’ 27-point win over Denver on Friday. “When we are clicking, we are a pretty hard team to guard when we are making shots.”

But what about Durant? How do the Knicks stop a guy who is hitting more than 50 percent of his field goals and 40 percent from beyond the arc?

“Try to get the ball out of his hands as much as possible and contain everybody else,” J.R. Smith said.

One Thunder player the Knicks don’t have to worry about is Russell Westbrook. Westbrook has been out since Christmas Day due to a knee injury. But the Thunder (40-12) haven’t missed a beat.

Unlike the Knicks (20-30), Oklahoma City has handled its injuries well. Point guard Reggie Jackson has been a lifesaver for Oklahoma City, and Durant has been Durant.

With Westbrook out, Durant has scored 33.3 points per game on 52 percent shooting. He’s also handed out 5.7 assists.

So Woodson and the Knicks will have their hands full on Sunday. The Knicks snapped a three-game losing streak with Friday’s win but are still 10 games under .500. Their struggles have led to widespread speculation about Woodson’s job status.

“They have been really good at home, [but] we had some success there last year -- that is all I am thinking about,” Woodson said. “Hopefully, I can take our ball club in and put a solid 48-minute ball game together.”

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.