Kevin Durant: 42-Point Outburst Moves KD Firmly Ahead in MVP Race

Shawn Brubaker@@63brubakerContributor IIJanuary 12, 2013

Jan 11, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Metta World Peace (15) gestures toward Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) as referee Eric Dalen (center) watches at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

To move ahead of LeBron James in the MVP race, Kevin Durant will need plenty of premier performances. He's been putting them up all season, and Friday's game was the gem he needed to move to the top of the pack in the NBA.

Durant posted an insane 42 points, eight rebounds and five assists in a dominating 116-101 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. KD had 40 heading into the fourth quarter before the Thunder coasted to the finish with their backups.

What makes Durant special is his efficiency: Those 42 points came on just 25 attempts. Compare that to Kobe Bryant, who had a nice night of his own, going for 28 points on 23 field-goal attempts. 

Never have 42 points looked more effortless. Durant makes scoring look easy, effortlessly weaving between defenders, using his long arms to get off uncontested layups and shots. That scoring prowess was completely on display Saturday night.

Going forward, a few stars need to align to guarantee Durant the MVP. First, Durant is chasing a magical shooting line—50 percent from the field, 40 percent from deep and 90 percent from the charity stripe. He's currently above each of those milestones. If he maintains that pace, that would virtually guarantee the award for KD.

Second, Durant just needs to keep up his current level of efficiency. His +30.37 efficiency rating is near the pinnacle in the NBA, and keeping it that high is a sure-fire way to stay in the discussion.

Finally, Durant needs to keep out-performing LeBron. Look at the two over their past three games, and Durant has clearly been outperforming LeBron. Over that span, Durant has averaged 32.3 points per game, along with 7.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists to go 2-1. James, on the other hand, have averaged just 20.3 points per game in his last three, with 7.3 rebounds and 6.7 assists in a 1-2 span.

As good as LeBron is, he can't match Durant's prolific scoring and his terrific shooting. Durant's brilliant performance Friday was the performance he needed to jump ahead of King James, and his continued scoring brilliance will cement that status.