Kawhi Leonard vaults himself into the NBA MVP conversation

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"Kawhi wanted it badly", Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said to ESPN. "A couple of calls that were extremely questionable just kind of messed up our flow a little bit". But he's made up for that by adding more long twos to his game - often on quick curls around a high screen, as he did in the Houston game, but also in isolation on a variety of hesitation and pull-up moves - and making almost half of them.

The Spurs star bolstered his case for Most Valuable Player, single-handedly burying the Houston Rockets with a clutch 3-pointer on one end and a monster block of James Harden on the other.

This really comes down to what you value: the heroic singular effort in the face of overwhelming odds (Westbrook) or a dominant performance for a potentially great team (Harden.) How about the two-way impact where Leonard shines?

That San Antonio has been able to close the gap with Golden State over the past week is largely becasue of Leonard's brilliance. Leonard hit both free throws to put the Spurs up by four.

"'We fly real high!' I'm buying that airline".

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has watched over Leonard's development throughout his career, and recently told ESPN.com's Michael C. Wright that Leonard's mentality is what sets him apart from the majority of National Basketball Association players and makes him one of the league's elite. These are the shots that had DeMarcus Cousins saying that he saw "flashes of Kobe" in Kawhi's game, and it's rare that workmanlike perimeter grinders are able to add them to their games so successfully. Here's that aforementioned sequence from the end of the game (minus the peeing-in-a-cup part).

- Spurs F Kawhi Leonard was named the Western Conference Player of the Week for games played February 27-March 5. It's not even news when LeBron goes 30, 17 and six.

- Houston set a record for offensive rebounds against a San Antonio opponent on April 13, 1984, when the Rockets took 35.

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