Rudy Gay

Rudy Gay hits the overtime game-winner to beat the Pacers (VIDEO)


Rudy Gay was just 3-13 from the field and scored six total points through three quarters of the Raptors’ win over the Pacers on Friday. Indiana led 72-64 after three at home, and was poised to close it out against a Toronto team that it had simply been better than to this point in the season.

But Gay got going in the fourth, and then buried the Pacers near the end of the overtime session. He played all 17 minutes of the final two periods, and scored 17 points in that stretch to carry his new team to victory.

This jumper over (All-Star) Paul George was the shot that sealed it. He had George in isolation, and simply dribbled to his spot, rose up, and drained the shot over his defender as though he wasn’t even there.

Gay is averaging 24.7 points in four games with the Raptors, up from between 16 and 17 points per game while he was with the Grizzlies for the bulk of the first part of this season.

James Harden: “I am the best player in the league. I believe that.”

James Harden, Stephen Curry
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James Harden was the MVP last season — if you ask his fellow NBA players.

The traditional award (based on a media vote) went to Stephen Curry (in the closest vote in four years), and that was the right call (in my mind). But from the time it happened Harden did not buy it. And he still doesn’t buy it. In the least — and he’s using that as fuel for this season. That’s what he told Fran Blinebury over at

“I am the best player in the league. I believe that,” he said. “I thought I was last year, too.”

Well, it’s a more realistic claim than Paul George’s.

“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.

“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”

That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.

I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?

It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.