Last week it appeared that Kevin Durant wanted this MVP much more than LeBron James. But with the comments he made to the media, along with the loss against LeBron and Miami on Wednesday night, Durant has given up his lead. It was very noble and admirable of him to address the media and support his point guard the way he did, however now isn’t the time for that. In the midst of a heated MVP race, Durant pretty much denounced himself as the number one scoring option on his own team. Sure that may have been a good move for the team going forward, and was great for the confidence of Russell Westbrook, but there’s no question that it hurt Durant’s MVP stock.
Whether or not that statement holds true on the court is yet to be determined. Durant had a game against Indiana where he scored 44, taking twice as many shots as Westbrook in a winning effort. So it could have just been an empty gesture. Regardless, LeBron reclaims the top spot in this week’s “Race to the MVP” Watch.
In other news, Kobe Bryant has gotten back on track, Kevin Love can’t catch a break, and the Dwight Howard drama is slowly destroying the Magic’s chances at contending for a championship.
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10. DERRICK ROSE – Last week: 29 pts/four ast/six rebs
Last Week: No. 10, maintaining
The reigning MVP made his return against New York on Sunday, which was a good time to return considering the Knicks were the last team he saw before missing 12 straight games. In his return, Rose went 8-for-26 from the field, with only four assists and eight turnovers. He also missed two crucial free throws down the stretch, allowing Carmelo Anthony to show off his clutch gene.
Rose was very rusty in his first game back. If he can recover effectively and get back in the swing of things, it will be in perfect timing for the Bulls, who are trying to finish the season as the league’s best team for the second year in a row. If they are able to accomplish that, there’s no question that Rose will finish with a good amount of votes, despite the fact that he’s only played 35 games for the Bulls so far this season.
9. DWIGHT HOWARD – Last week: 14.0 ppg/15.0 rpg/2.5 bpg
LW: No. 6, Falling
The Dwight Howard drama hasn’t faded away one bit in Orlando. Many felt that after he committed to staying through next season, the air would be clear and the Magic could focus on contending for a championship. Well, that’s exactly the opposite of what’s happened so far. The drama has gotten even worse in Orlando because of the news leaking that Dwight Howard wanted Stan Van Gundy fired. Van Gundy knows it’s true, but Howard continues to deny it to the media. So until something is done about this, it’s hard to imagine the Magic as a legitimate contender in the East.
Dwight recovered form his embarrassing night against the Knicks by having a monster game against Philly, scoring 20 and snagging 22 rebounds in a winning effort. Dwight and Van Gundy are both professionals, so they will both continue to do their respective jobs. However, Van Gundy really seems disgusted with the Magic organization and is almost a lame duck coach at this point. The drama will continue to be the black cloud over the Magic’s season until something is done about this.
8. CHRIS PAUL – Last Week: 15.5 ppg/12.2 apg/4.2 rpg
LW: No. 8, maintaining
Aside from a loss against the Lakers on Wednesday, the Clippers took care of business last week with convincing wins over Dallas and then in back-to-back games against Sacramento. Paul was terrific in each of his four games last week, dishing out double-digit assist three times. In the loss against the Lakers, he was fantastic, scoring 22 and dishing out 16.
It’s pretty clear that Chris Paul has to play well for his team to have a chance to win. He knows that, and he plays like it.