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Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Debating LeBron's 61-point game, MVP race

By Marc Stein

This is an excerpt from today's edition of 5-on-5:

Fact or Fiction: LeBron's 61-point performance is his best game ever.

Stein: Fiction. The 25 straight points against Detroit, Game 7 in Boston, his Game 7 last June against the Spurs ... all of LeBron's playoff hits trump a Monday night in March against Charlotte. But let's appreciate it for what it was: The best game ever played by an NBA player wearing a mask. It is the smallest of sample sizes, obviously, but LeBron is shooting 67.2 percent from the field in his three games as Masked LeBron. How is that possible?

Fact or Fiction: LeBron is now the frontrunner in the MVP race.

Stein: Fiction. Since 5-on-5 rules forbid hedging, I'll say that I've still got Durant in the lead because of the load he's shouldered in carrying OKC to a 22-8 record in the games Russ Westbrook has missed through injury. But I'm using lead in the narrowest sense. What we've seen from LeBron over the last few weeks -- don't forget the crazy 3 he drained in Golden State before All-Star Weekend -- has essentially prompted me to delete the word "frontrunner" from my MVP lexicon for the rest of the season. As covered here today on Stein Line Live, these guys keep pitching frontrunner status back and forth in such a spectacular manner that we're probably all just better off letting them play this out to the finish line before we try to call the race. In keeping with one of the mantras of the season, let's run through the tape. The right answer might very well be: Neither of them has the MVP lead on March 4.

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