Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant scored 41 points in Monday's win over the Atlanta Hawks, becoming the first NBA player since Tracy McGrady in 2003 to score at least 30 points in 11 consecutive games in the same season.
Durant matched T-Mac's accomplishment in stylish fashion, hitting 15 of 25 shots Monday, including a game-winner in the final seconds to lift Oklahoma City to an eighth straight win. Durant is playing the best basketball of his career right now, and he's doing it without superstar teammate Russell Westbrook, who has been out since Christmas Day due to a balky knee that required arthroscopic surgery.
Westbrook's injury originally looked like a massive blow to the Thunder's chances of locking down the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. That prognosis was confirmed when the team went 5-5 through the first 10 games without the star point guard, but Durant's recent tear has Oklahoma City back atop the standings. With Westbrook expected to return well before the playoffs, and possibly even before the All-Star break, the Thunder have to be considered the favorites to come out of a loaded Western Conference.
As for Durant's record-chasing, the superstar forward has no shot at Wilt Chamberlain's mark of 65 consecutive 30-point games. However, Durant may be able to make a run at the shot-clock era record of 16 games, held by none other than the Lakers' Kobe Bryant.