James Harden helped his MVP candidacy on Sunday dropping 33 on LeBron James and the Cavaliers in an overtime win for Houston. Harden hit his free throws, too.
The Rockets have gone 11-4 with Dwight Howard out and Harden’s play in that stretch has strengthened his MVP candidacy. He, Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook are currently the top three in the race, but the final 20+ games will determine who gets the win.
Five Things We Learned in NBA Sunday: James Harden, LeBron James want your MVP vote
If you watch closely every night in the NBA you can learn a little something. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to help with those lessons from another night in the Association. Here’s what you missed while remembering the old MTV Rock ’n Jock events…
1) LeBron James and James Harden played like MVPs. The Cavaliers and Rockets were in a playoff game — it was intense, it was physical to the point of chippy, and it was a dramatic overtime game. One the Rockets won — they are now 11-4 with Dwight Howard out. But what everyone is going to talk about is the LeBron James and James Harden going back-and-forth. Harden bolstered his MVP candidacy with 33 points, eight rebounds, and five assists. Harden got his kicks in. LeBron, who a couple days back went hard at Stephen Curry to make his MVP candidacy, tried to do the same thing with Harden and LeBron finished with 37 points, eight rebounds, and four assists. However, LeBron shot 3-of-11 from the free throw line, which is one big reason Cleveland lost.
2) The JaVale McGee recruiting battle has begun.The Sixers bought out JaVale McGee — at full price — right before the deadline to waive him and allow him to join another team and make their playoff roster. A whole lot of contenders could use him as a reserve big man — he’s an athletic seven footer who can block shots and run the floor. The Mavericks, Clippers, Rockets are among the teams rumored to be interested. The teams can all offer the same minimum contract, so it’s going to be about where McGee wants to play, and who can do the best Matt Foley motivational speaker recruiting job.
3) Brandon Bass had the dunk of the night. Yes, that Brandon Bass. This was a quality throwdown, even if the source was a little surprising. Brandon Bass has a few hops still.
4) Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan are carrying the Clippers quite well. Friday night the Clippers beat Memphis. Sunday they handled the Bulls pretty comfortably, 96-86. And both of those games they were without Blake Griffin. Sunday the Clippers pulled away with a 10-2 run midway through the fourth, a quarter when Jamal Crawford dropped 10 of his 16. However, it is the play of Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan that has carried the Clippers without Griffin (and not let them fall down the West standings). CP3 had 28 points and 12 assists, while Jordan pulled down 26 rebounds. There are moments you think this team could put it all together and be scary come the playoffs; they just haven’t sustained it. Yet.
5) It’s an annual tradition: The playoffs are coming, and the Bulls are breaking down. Derrick Rose is out 4-6 weeks after his latest knee surgery. Taj Gibson was out on Sunday against the Clippers due to an ankle issue. Then Jimmy Butler had to leave the game after hyper-extending his elbow, and he did not return. (Butler will have an MRI Monday on his elbow.) This happens every year with the Bulls, and although you can’t throw this one on Tom Thibodeau (he wasn’t grinding Rose into the ground, for example) you wonder if management will after the season anyway because they want to make a change.
Report: Sixers agree to buyout with JaVale McGee; he can sign with contender
The Philadelphia 76ers have agreed to waive center JaVale McGee in time for him to sign with a playoff team, a person with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports. The person requested anonymity because the decision had not been announced.
Players waived by March 1 can still sign with teams that compete in the postseason, meaning the 27-year-old McGee will likely have a fruitful market when he clears waivers.
The buyout is for the full price, $12 million next season and no discount for the Sixers, Amick reports. The Sixers traded for McGee at the deadline, taking on his salary mostly for the first round pick that came with him. He was not part of their long-term plans.
While McGee is a regular on Shaqtin’ a Fool for mistakes that are the definition of boneheaded, he is an incredibly athletic big man who does show flashes of brilliance. He would be the kind of reserve big man who would be a good bench boost to just about ay contender.
This is a big win for McGee; he gets paid, and he gets to play for the contender of his choosing.