Harden gets 21st triple-double, leads Rockets past Kings

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No MVP has since 1997 has been on a team that ranked less than fourth in wins. And even with many players in contract years, he kept the room together. Under Leonard’s leadership, the Spurs have sailed to the second-best record in the league, almost catching the Golden State Warriors for the top seed in the West. Leonard has won the last two NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards, and it’s likely he’ll win his third in a row this year.

My point? Crushing a so-called un-crushable record in professional sports is usually followed by an MVP award.

Clippers: Rivers earned his 216th victory to surpass Mike Dunleavy for most regular-season wins in franchise history. But with the Rockets and Thunder already locked into a first-round playoff matchup, if the National Basketball Association were smart, they’d award the trophy prior to Game 1 and let whoever comes in second pull an Hakeem and exact immediate revenge. Capped by a buzzer-beating, game-winning three-point dagger to end the Denver Nuggets’ playoff hopes last Sunday, Westbrook cemented his place atop the record books with a masterful 50-point, 16-rebound and 10-assist performance to surpass Robertson’s record.

Harden found a way to keep all of the Kings’ guards off balance, scoring 35 points, handing out 15 assists and grabbing 11 rebounds on his way to his 21st triple-double of the season. The Rockets were a mess last season. But the Timberwolves never led by more than three points and the Thunder answered right back to set up the back-and-forth finish. Anderson scored 20 points or more for the 14th time.

When the season is over on Tuesday, Westbrook will have the second most turnovers ever in an National Basketball Association season behind only Harden, who will actually have committed the most in history by a significant margin. The Oklahoma City point guard is averaging 31.9 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game.

The big knock was that he’s been inefficient, particularly when compared to Harden.

For many, that was the game that sealed the MVP for Westbrook – a storybook ending to a game that encapsulated a storybook season. LeBron is the best player on the planet. Oh and you’ve played every game. While the Rockets will be bringing out at least one Sixth Man of the Year candidate the Thunder will be playing three rookies and another player with 0 playoff experience. Given the past indications of who will win, the race may open up to more familiar faces. He’s a far superior defensive player to both Westbrook and Harden. Leonard and the Spurs are 61-19 this season with two games left to play before the playoffs. Points and assists will come from an offensive system that puts up points by the bushel. As a top Defensive Player of the Year candidate, Gobert has also morphed into the Utah’s No. 1 scoring option. While Steph Curry ran away with the MVP in unanimous fashion previous year, thins are far less clear-cut this time around. It’s necessary to note that the Thunder are 33-9 this season when Westbrook records a triple-double: They are 13-25 when he does not. He led his team to more wins. If James were traded to another team, his new team would become an immediate championship contender. Winning an MVP puts a player in an elite group that includes Michael Jordan, Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Larry Bird, and Wilt Chamberlain just to name a few.

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By then the MVP votes will have already been cast. He’s played like an MVP and his teammates have held up their end of the bargain.

Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook

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