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1. Lebron James. He went for 50 in the World's Most Famous Arena last night and he loved every minute of it. And, more importantly, he did it in a competitive game in which his scoring down the stretch was the deciding factor. This game was 99-98 with 4 minutes to play before Lebron scored 12 points on four three's in the span of a little over two and half minutes to effectively end the contest. It was breathtaking and even the most deranged Knicks fan (and I know of what I speak) couldn't help but be awed by the performance. LBJ was awash in the chants of "MVP" raining down upon him from the rafters.
"I've dreamed about playing well in this building and it's overtaken of how I could ever dream about. ... To get a standing ovation in the greatest basketball arena in the world, it was a dream come true for me. It's one of the best things that ever happened to me."-LBJ on the love from the Knicks fans
2. Jason Richardson. His old team was in Charlotte last night. They won't soon forget him. Richardson poured in 42 last night and led the Bobcats over the Warriors. And, you just know that Golden State had already taken this game to the bank. Both because it was the Bobcats and because they really needed it to protect their slim lead over Denver for the last playoff berth in the West.
3. The Houston Rockets. The beat goes on without General Tso. Shocking most everyone, they keep winning. After last night's demolition of Indiana the Rockets are still ensconced in the fifth spot in the standings and show no signs of falling off. They've now won 16 straight. And, the last four in the streak came without Yao.
4. Chris Paul. Though last night's explosion in NYC is making me waver, I would cast my (fictitious) vote for MVP for Chris Paul if the voting was today. He kept the Hornets in the hunt for the top spot in the Western Conference with a brilliant 23 point/18 assist night against Atlanta. The thing that most amazes me is the consistency of his excellence. And, the way that he is really carrying a team every single night. His game doesn't have the charisma or the power of Lebron's but he has seemingly no flaws at all. He is as technically sound as Kobe but likeable and capable of making his teammates better rather than inconsequential.
5. The Utah Jazz. I know that I give the Salt Lake community a hard time about their lack of home-crowd diversity. And their polygamy. But their basketball team can ball. And something about that monotone multi-wived crowd sure seems to help. With last night's win over the T-Wolves, the Jazz have taken 17 straight contests on their home floor. They seem entrenched in the 4 spot in the standings just below the trinity of LA, NOLA and San Antonio.