The 2010 NBA scoring title will most likely go to Kevin Durant, having scored a total of 2,336 points this season (with 4 games still remaining) and averaging an amazing 29.9 points per game (PPG) over that span. Before Durant elevated his game this week with 40, 45 and 33 point performances over his last 3 games (39.3 PPG!), Lebron James was giving him a serious run for his money (29.7 PPG). This year’s scoring title race reminded us of another back in the late 70s.
In 1978, the NBA scoring title came down to the last game of the season between David Thompson and George Gervin. Going into the final day of the regular season, Gervin lead Thompson by 15 points in the scoring race. Both players, Gervin of the San Antonio Spurs and Thompson of the Denver Nuggets, would play their last game of the ’77-’78 season on April 9th. Thompson would play the Detroit Pistons early in the day, and Gervin would play the New Orleans Jazz that night.
In his last game of the season, Thompson put together one of his best games, scoring 73 points and setting an NBA record in the process with 32 points in the 1st quarter. Knowing that he needed at least 58 points to win the scoring title, "The Iceman" elevated his game and would put on a quite a show against the Jazz.
In the first quarter, Gervin scored 20 points. He would then go on to break Thompson’s NBA record for points in a quarter by scoring a new NBA record (now shared with Carmelo Anthony) 33 points in the second quarter. Needing only 5 points to surpass Thompson for the scoring title, Gervin recorded 10 points in the third quarter. He sat the entire 4th quarter, and finished the game with 63 points and the first of three consecutive NBA scoring titles. Ironically enough, both teams lost their final games of the season despite these record breaking performances. The ’77-’78 scoring title race is still the closest in NBA history, with Gervin narrowly edging out Thompson with 27.21 PPG compared to Thompson’s 27.15 PPG.