James, Durant named Players of the Month

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LeBron James of the Miami Heat and Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder, who finished 1-2 in MVP voting and 1-2 in the NBA Finals last season, are the first two Players of the Month.

In November, James led the Heat to an Eastern Conference-best 11-3 (.786) mark, averaging 25.0 points, 8.9 rebounds and 6.5 assists while shooting 53 percent.

James tallied at least 20 points in all 14 games, marking the first time in his career he opened the season with that many consecutive 20-plus-point games.

Durant helped the Thunder to a 13-4 (.765) record. He averaged 26.5 points, 8.8 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.65 blocks while shooting 51 percent from the field.

Durant recorded his first career triple-double – 25 points, 13 rebounds and a career-high 10 assists – in a 119-109 win over Golden State on Nov. 18.

Other nominees were Atlanta’s Al Horford; Brooklyn’s Brook Lopez; Charlotte’s Kemba Walker; Cleveland’s Anderson Varejao; Dallas’ O.J. Mayo; Houston’s James Harden; the Los Angeles Clippers’ Chris Paul; Memphis’ Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, Rudy Gay, and Zach Randolph; New York’s Carmelo Anthony; Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook; Philadelphia’s Jrue Holiday; and San Antonio’s Tim Duncan.

LeBron and Kobe named Players of the Month

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NEW YORK — LeBron James and Kobe Bryant were named the  NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Month, respectively, for games played in December and January.

James led Miami to a 16-5 (.762) record for games played in December and January, matching the best start to a season in franchise history, behind averages of 29.2 points, 8.3 rebounds and 7.1 assists. A three-time Eastern Conference player of the week so far this season, James ranks second in the NBA in scoring, fourth in field goal percentage (.551), ninth in minutes (37.4 mpg) and 10th in steals (1.8 spg).

Appearing in 20 of Miami’s 21 games, James led the team in scoring 16 times, tallying 25-plus points 16 times and 30-plus points on 11 occasions.

Bryant averaged a league-high 30.0 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.4 assists for games played in December and January, helping the Lakers to a 13-9 record (.591).

On Jan. 1 at Denver, Bryant became the youngest player in NBA history to score 28,000 points.  On Jan. 10 in Phoenix, Bryant scored an NBA season-high 48 points, kicking off four straight 40-plus-point games over a five-night span.

Bryant passed Jerry West as the Lakers franchise leader in free throws made on Jan. 28 at Milwaukee and passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the franchise leader in field goals made on Jan. 29 at Minnesota.

Here is a closer look at the month for James and Bryant:

LeBron James, Miami Heat
Dec. 25 @ Dallas: 37 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in a 105-94 season-opening win over the Mavericks.
Jan. 4 vs. Indiana: 33 points, a season-high 13 assists and eight rebounds in a 118-83 win over the Pacers.
Jan. 29 vs. Chicago: 35 points, 11 rebounds and five assists during a 97-93 victory over the Bulls.

Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
Jan. 3 vs. Houston: 37 points, eight rebounds and six assists in a 108-99 win over the Rockets.
Jan. 10 vs. Phoenix: Scored a season-high 48 points on 18-of-31 shooting to go with five rebounds, three assists and three steals during a 99-83 win over the Suns.
Jan. 29 @ Minnesota: 35-point, 14-rebound double-double during a 106-101 win over the Timberwolves.

Other nominees were Atlanta’s Joe Johnson and Josh Smith, Chicago’s Derrick Rose, Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving, Dallas’ Shawn Marion, Houston’s Kyle Lowry, Indiana’s Roy Hibbert and Danny Granger, Memphis’ Marc Gasol, New Jersey’s Deron Williams, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge.