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Article:WWOD?'s Starting Five For Monday

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1. Kobe Bryant. That first forty minutes of the game against the Mavs? Eh. He scored 22 unremarkable points and was bizarrely off from the free-throw line. That last 20 minutes? He was out-of-this-world good and scored 30 points in the 4th quarter and OT. Topping 50 points for the 22nd time on the NBA hardwood, Bryant showed how dominant he can be. There was no way he was going to let Dirk and the Mavs beat him. There was also no way he was going to let anyone else on his team get a shot off.

2. Lebron James. If Kobe is a coiled snake or a sleek, sly bloodthirsty lone wolf then Lebron is a hungry grizzly bear who's been told that there's a picnic basket sitting atop the rim. He is so much bigger and stronger than everyone he seems to matched up against. And, he showed it down the stretch against the Bulls yesterday, flying to the rim he was a cross between a classically-trained Austrian ballet dancer and an American-built freight train. Had 37 all told and 6 in a back-breaking stretch as time wound down.

3. Erick Dampier. Along with Jerome James, the other member of Twin Towers of the NBA All-Contract Year Team had a big game yesterday against the Lakers. Seemingly the greatest beneficiary of Kidd's presence, he scored 16 points, pulled down 17 rebounds and added a serious foul on Kobe rather than let him get to the rim. And, really, that foul is the reason he made the Five today.

4. Dirk Nowitzki. You thought that he was soft. You thought that he was wilting before the fire that Kobe was breathing all over the court at the Staples Center. Or, at least I did. Right up until he icily drained that straightaway three-pointer to send the game to overtime. He wanted the shot, he got the shot and he hit the shot. And, who passed him the ball? Jason Kidd.

5. The Calendar. Fresh off of the attention-grabbing Leap Year Day we find ourselves full-tilt into March. This month we've got March Madness, the first crop of baseball highlights and St. Patrick's Day. Well played, March.

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