Head coach Mike Brown and the Los Angeles Lakers have decided to rest Kobe Bryant for the final game of the regular season in preparation for the playoffs, officially conceding the NBA scoring title to Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant, his third in a row.
Bryant trails Durant by mere percentage points in the scoring race, with Durant averaging 28.03 ppg to Bryant’s average of 27.86. Kobe would have needed to score 38 points in Thursday’s game at Sacramento to win the scoring title over Durant, who scored 32 points in the Thunder’s final game Wednesday evening.
Bryant led the NBA in scoring for the majority of the 2011-2012 season before injuries caused the Lakers guard to miss seven games in March. Bryant has led the NBA in scoring titles twice previously in his career with 35.4 in 05-06 and 31.6 in 06-07.
The Lakers are poised to contend for their third NBA title in four seasons and will meet either Denver or Dallas in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs Sunday at Staples Center.
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