MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- It fell short of a concession speech, but LeBron James acknowledged Wednesday that rival and Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant is closing in on the league MVP award this season.
James was asked whether he thought Durant was the front-runner entering the final games of the regular season.
"I would say he's the most consistent basketball player as far as the MVP this year, man," James said. "He's put up some great numbers."
Durant has been considered the front-runner for the award for much of the season and strengthened his candidacy by recently surpassing Michael Jordan's mark by scoring at least 25 points in 41 consecutive games. Durant's streak ended when he scored 23 in Tuesday's win at Sacramento.
"I think KD has had one heck of a season," James said of Durant, the league's leading scorer. "And, you know, if he's rewarded with the MVP, it would be great. It would be awesome for him, for his family. He's played MVP-type basketball. I don't really get caught up into what people say. At the end of the day, they have their own votes and they go from there."
Media members and league broadcasters were sent ballots for the regular-season awards in recent days. Durant has had one of the most prolific seasons of his career and has seen a boost in his overall production on both ends of the court.
Durant is averaging 32 points and 5.6 assists per game, both career-high marks, along with 7.6 rebounds and 1.3 steals. He is shooting just less than 51 percent from the field and 40.5 percent from 3-point range. Durant has finished second to James during three of the four seasons James has won the MVP award.
James has seen a dip in his numbers from his previous MVP seasons but still is averaging 26.9 points, 6.9 rebounds and 6.4 assists. Like Durant, who has played much of the season without Russell Westbrook, James has carried the Heat as Dwyane Wade recovered from injuries. Wade missed his eighth consecutive game and 27th overall Wednesday against the Grizzlies.
Durant has scored at least 40 points in 12 games this season and has surpassed the 50-point mark twice, with a career-high 54 coming in a Jan. 17 win against Golden State.