Derrick Rose edges Chris Paul in MVP candidate showdown

On paper, Derrick Rose vs. Chris Paul conjures images of an offensive basketball orgy, with buckets and dimes and dunks and crossovers everywhere. But last night’s MVP-candidate matchup was a defensive battle between two of the most stingy teams in the League … The Hornets strategy was to keep Rose out of the lane by putting multiple bodies in front of him, and for the most part it worked. Chicago’s offense was a little too much of Rose (23 pts, 6 asts, 7-15 FG) pounding the rock, but even when he was forced to go where he didn’t want to, Rose hit some tough shots floating toward the baseline … On the other end, Paul (15 pts, 6 asts, 3-10 FG) couldn’t make much headway either, and N.O. would’ve been cooked if Marcus Thornton (24 pts) hadn’t come off the bench shooting reckless like he was auditioning for a Schwarzenegger flick … It was tied well into in the fourth quarter before Chicago’s defense clamped down and New Orleans’ offense went cold while C.J. Watson sparked a 9-0 Bulls run. With about three minutes left, N.O. was down seven but still in it. “The Hornets need something special to happen,” said one announcer. And then CP3 trucked Kurt Thomas and got whistled for a charge. “Uh-oh. That wasn’t it.” … Why did the producers keep letting the Hornets play-by-play guy say it was Valentine’s Day, knowing he was wrong? The “Valentine’s Day Massacre” dude kept talking about is gonna happen at his house when Monday comes around and he doesn’t get his wife anything … The Bucks weren’t bottled up by any great defense in the fourth quarter against Indiana — they just couldn’t make any shots. It was close early in the fourth until Indy went on a 14-0 run after somebody put a lid on Milwaukee’s rim. On one end, Danny Granger (30 pts) was drilling pull-up threes in transition and Darren Collison (22 pts) was making blind turnarounds amongst the trees to beat the shot clock. On the other end, the Bucks couldn’t hit wide-open jumpers. And this was on a night where they were giving out Kareem Abdul-Jabbar bobble heads in Milwaukee. It was an insult to the NBA’s all-time leading scorer … Maybe Brandon Jennings is still getting back into game shape, but he needs to step his game up soon. For all his speed and ability to run an offense, Jennings is just kind of out there when he’s on the floor, and the Bucks’ offense runs better when Earl Boykins is at the point …Read More>>

Kevin Durant got away with one (actually, two) on Saturday night. With under a minute to go in Sacramento, the Thunder were up four and trying to deliver the dagger. James Harden bricked a three, and after Serge Ibaka got kinda mugged on his putback attempt with no foul call, Harden allowed Tyreke Evans (30 pts, 9 rebs) to slip behind him for a breakaway layup. Down two, the Kings had to foul Durant (35 pts) with five seconds left, and he shockingly bricked both free throws. Kings ball, and Tyreke went for the win instead of the tie, missing at the buzzer … Now that the Cavs have ripped off a 1-game winning streak, the NBA’s saddest ongoing joke has become the Wizards’ 0-25 mark on the road. Fortunately, John Wall and crew were at home last night. Unfortunately, they were facing a Spurs squad coming off an ugly loss in Philly that needing a patsy to make them feel better about themselves … This game was like an episode of “Lockup” on MSNBC, with San Antonio playing the role of Fleece Johnson. Tony Parker went off in the first quarter for 14 points and 4 assists, and the Spurs built a 30-point lead before halftime. After that, you Earl Monroe and Wes Unseld in their prime couldn’t have helped Washington … Other stat lines from Saturday: Dirk Nowitzki and Peja Stojakovic scored 22 points apiece to lead Dallas past Houston; Wilson Chandler had 21 points, 8 rebounds and 5 blocks as New York beat New Jersey without Amar’e Stoudemire (toe); Thaddeus Young‘s 18 points led seven Sixers who scored in double figures to rout Minnesota; and Stephen Jackson scored 32 points and hit the game-winning jumper at the buzzer as Charlotte beat Atlanta. After the shot, Captain Jack was trying to stand on the scorer’s table and tell the road crowd all about it, but his teammates held him back, so he settled for the Aaron Rodgers championship-belt taunt … The No. 1 college team in the country is no longer undefeated, as Ohio State lost at Wisconsin. As good as Jared Sullinger (19 pts, 12 rebs) and the Buckeyes are, this wasn’t that much of a shock, because the Badgers never lose at home. Jordan Taylor (27 pts, 7 asts) was unstoppable during Wisconsin’s decisive second-half run and may have officially jacked the title of Best Point Guard in the Big Ten from Demetri McCamey, the Deron Williams clone at Illinois … The best NCAA performance of the day, though, came from Cleveland State’s Norris Cole, who put up 41 points, 20 rebounds and 9 assists against Youngstown State. Here’s the crazy part, though: Cole is a 6-foot-2 guard. And apparently he is the best basketball player in Cleveland right now … We’re out like a perfect record …