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Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) goes up for a shot in front of Los Angeles Clippers forward Danny Granger (33) and forward Jared Dudley (9) in the second quarter of Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinal NBA basketball playoff series in Oklahoma City, Monday, May 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
NBA: Thunder’s Kevin Durant wins first MVP award
First Published May 06 2014 09:27 am • Last Updated May 09 2014 11:56 pm

Oklahoma City • Kevin Durant has plenty of scoring titles. Now, he finally has an MVP trophy to go with them.

The Oklahoma City Thunder star won the NBA’s top individual honor Tuesday, grabbing 119 first-place votes. Miami’s LeBron James, who had won the last two MVP awards and four of the previous five, finished second with six first-place votes and Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers was third.

At a glance

NBA MVP voting

(Voting is on a 10-7-5-3-1 basis)

Player, Team;1st;2nd;3rd;4th;5th;Total

Kevin Durant, OKC;119;6;-;-;-;1,232

LeBron James, Mia;6;118;1;-;-;891

Blake Griffin, LAC;-;1;66;30;7;434

Joakim Noah, Chi;-;-;32;50;12;322

James Harden, Hou;-;-;7;10;20;85

Stephen Curry, GS;-;-;4;9;19;66

Chris Paul, LAC;-;-;5;6;2;45

Al Jefferson, Cha;-;-;2;4;12;34

Paul George, Ind;-;-;1;4;16;33

LaMarcus Aldridge, Por;-;-;2;2;10;26

Kevin Love, Min;-;-;2;3;6;25

Tim Duncan, SA;-;-;1;3;7;21

Tony Parker, SA;-;-;2;2;5;21

Dirk Nowitzki, Dal;-;-;-;1;4;7

Carmelo Anthony, NY;-;-;-;1;1;4

Goran Dragic, Pho;-;-;-;-;3;3

Mike Conley, Mem;-;-;-;-;1;1

NBA MVPs

2014 — Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City

2013 — LeBron James, Miami

2012 — LeBron James, Miami

2011 — Derrick Rose, Chicago

2010 — LeBron James, Cleveland

2009 — LeBron James, Cleveland

2008 — Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers

2007 — Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas

2006 — Steve Nash, Phoenix

2005 — Steve Nash, Phoenix

2004 — Kevin Garnett, Minnesota

2003 — Tim Duncan, San Antonio

2002 — Tim Duncan, San Antonio

2001 — Allen Iverson, Philadelphia 76ers

2000 — Shaquille O’Neal, L.A. Lakers

1999 — Karl Malone, Utah

1998 — Michael Jordan, Chicago

1997 — Karl Malone, Utah

1996 — Michael Jordan, Chicago

1995 — David Robinson, San Antonio

1994 — Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston

1993 — Charles Barkley, Phoenix

1992 — Michael Jordan, Chicago

1991 — Michael Jordan, Chicago

1990 — Magic Johnson, L.A. Lakers

1989 — Magic Johnson, L.A. Lakers

1988 — Michael Jordan, Chicago

1987 — Magic Johnson, L.A. Lakers

1986 — Larry Bird, Boston

1985 — Larry Bird, Boston

1984 — Larry Bird, Boston

1983 — Moses Malone, Philadelphia 76ers

1982 — Moses Malone, Houston

1981 — Julius Erving, Philadelphia 76ers

1980 — Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, L.A. Lakers

1979 — Moses Malone, Houston

1978 — Bill Walton, Portland

1977 — Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, L.A. Lakers

1976 — Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, L.A. Lakers

1975 — Bob McAdoo, Buffalo

1974 — Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Milwaukee

1973 — Dave Cowens, Boston

1972 — Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Milwaukee

1971 — Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Milwaukee

1970 — Willis Reed, New York

1969 — Wes Unseld, Baltimore

1968 — Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia 76ers

1967 — Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia 76ers

1966 — Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia 76ers

1965 — Bill Russell, Boston

1964 — Oscar Robertson, Cincinnati

1963 — Bill Russell, Boston

1962 — Bill Russell, Boston

1961 — Bill Russell, Boston

1960 — Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia Warriors

1959 — Bob Pettit, St. Louis

1958 — Bill Russell, Boston

1957 — Bob Cousy, Boston

1956 — Bob Pettit, St. Louis

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Durant, a 6-foot-9 forward, won his fourth scoring crown in five years this season by averaging 32 points per game. He helped the Thunder finish the regular season with a 59-23 record, second-best in the league, despite playing much of the season without three-time All-Star Russell Westbrook by his side because of a nagging knee injury.

"He’s been the most consistent guy all season long," Westbrook said at the end of the regular season. "He’s done a great job of leading us to where we are now. He’s basically put himself in front of everybody else in the league and shown that he’s the best player in the world."

James agreed, saying Monday: "Much respect to him and he deserves it. He had a big-time MVP season."

Durant’s run of 41 consecutive games this season with at least 25 points was the third-longest streak in NBA history. In all, he scored at least 40 points 14 times. He also averaged 7.4 rebounds and a career-high 5.5 assists while shooting 50 percent from the field.

"He does everything," New Orleans coach Monty Williams said. "You just can’t recall a guy that long who can do what he does every single night. Shooting from 30 feet on the floor with confidence and driving to the basket and dunking on guys, and then go post up, and on top of it, a great teammate and good kid."

Durant moved to the front of the pack while Westbrook was out following his most recent knee surgery. Durant averaged 35 points and 6.3 assists during that stretch as the Thunder went 20-7 and remained among the league’s elite.

Westbrook’s injury gave Durant an opportunity to use his improving skills as a playmaker.

"I’ve always been a player that was excited for my teammates’ success," Durant said. "Not just mine, but my teammates’ as well. Wanting to see them do well translates to my game, which is wanting to pass the ball and seeing my teammates reap the benefits."


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Teammates and opponents say Durant became a more complete player this season. They praised him for improving his court vision, consistently making the extra pass and moving more efficiently without the ball.

"What he does is tough to do," teammate Nick Collison said. "I think we take it for granted. To be able to stay on for long periods of time — have to cut hard, catch the ball in the right spot and defend on the other end — is tough to do. To be able to show that shows that he has an edge to him. He doesn’t take a night off."

Durant’s slight build could be considered one of his few weaknesses, but he has especially improved in dealing with opponents who try to push him around.

"People have been trying to do that since he’s been in the league, and obviously, he’s just gotten better every season, so I don’t really think that matters with him," Westbrook said. "He just takes on the challenge. When people try to be physical, he takes on the challenge and becomes more aggressive."

Though Durant’s consistency stood out this season, he had several exceptional games. He scored 48 points on Jan. 4 at Minnesota, then scored 48 again two games later at Utah. He scored a career-high 54 points in a home win against Golden State on Jan. 17 and two games later scored 46 at home in a win against Portland. Two games after that, he had a triple-double — 32 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists — in a win at Philadelphia, and he followed that with 41 points in a win over Atlanta. He scored 51 points at Toronto on March 21 in a staggering 53 minutes and hit the game-winning 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds left in double overtime.

He capped it off in the season finale by scoring 21 of his 42 points in the fourth quarter against Detroit and winning the game with a dunk with 16.5 seconds left. The Thunder overcame a 10-point deficit in the quarter to clinch the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs.

——

Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP



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