With Stephen Curry and LeBron James taking the floor, the MVP debate heated up in the hours leading up to the Warriors-Cavaliers game Thursday night in Cleveland.
Score one for the James, the four-time MVP.
Though Curry is widely perceived to be the leader in the MVP race this season, with James charging hard from the rear, it was LeBron scoring a decisive victory – individually and collectively – on national TV.
The Cavaliers posted a 110-99 win, with James leading the way at Quicken Loans Arena.
[POOLE: MVP campaign heads to Cleveland]
He torched the Warriors for a season-high 42 points, on 15-of-25 shooting, including 4-of-9 from beyond the arc. He unleashed his full scoring arsenal, from bullish drives to feathery 3-pointers. He also snagged a game-high 11 rebounds.
James made an impact early, with 13 first-quarter points, and took over the game at a crucial point in the third quarter, when the Cavs began pulling away.
Curry finished with 18 points on 5-of-17 shooting. After an impressive start, with 4-of-7 shooting and 14 points in the first half, Curry tailed off and shot 1-of-10 after intermission.
With seven weeks to go, there remains plenty of run for this MVP race. But it was James who made a big statement in a marquee game.
Curry may still be the leader in the race, but he was bloodied in public on Thursday and will have to recover.