NBA MVP: LeBron, Kawhi battle for second place

Not much has changed in the way of the MVP leader, but several contenders solidified their standing among the top-five of USA TODAY Sports’ MVP rankings.

Steph Curry, once again, received every single first-place vote after averaging 32.5 points and shooting 50 percent (26 of 52) from three-point range over his last four games. Friday’s 16-point win over Portland provided some measure of revenge after the Blazers smacked Golden State in mid-February.

Second-place will likely come down to four-time MVP LeBron James, whose Cavs came out flat in a surprising loss to Utah, or Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs’ soft-spoken leader. Rest for both stars could play a factor heading into the playoffs. Leonard’s candidacy gets an added boost, though, thanks to his relentless defense. He hounded Kevin Durant into an 11 of 25 night this past Saturday in a win over the Thunder and was integral to the Spurs’ 21-point win over the Clippers. Leonard won’t be winning NBA MVP this year, but that’s hardly a driving factor. He wants Golden State (and Curry) in the postseason.

Even though the Warriors…

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