Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

3 votes – Derrick Rose: Excellent game by Rose, notching up 31 points and 7 assists without a single turnover. He managed to stay both aggressive and under control throughout the game, which is never easy for young point guard to do. His fourth quarter was particularly impressive; after the Bulls had blown most of a healthy double-digit lead, the Cavs switched the omnipresent LeBron James onto Rose in an effort to shut him down. Given he is the only player on the Bulls that can actually create off the bounce, Rose had no choice but to go right at James if the Bulls were to have any shot. And go he did. Scoring on an array of step back jumpers and funky floaters, Rose made Lebron look almost human for a few minutes, and for that he gets the 3 votes.

2 votes – LeBron James: Utterly ridiculous. To dominate back-to-back games in such a fashion, in the playoffs, against a solid defender in Luol Deng is just…well, ridiculous. Led the comeback for the Cavs, and was stopped only by the brilliance of Derrick Rose, the hands of Joakim Noah (which led to a critical turnover) and couple of rubbish calls by the officials. Still, it has to be disconcerting for Cleveland fans to see their team go down despite yet another brilliant game from LeBron. It probably won’t matter much against the Bulls (I expect the Cavs to take the next two games), but if they can’t capitalise on James’ great games against the better squads, particularly Orlando, they might find themselves in a tough spot at some stage. I can’t help but wonder if there’s enough toughness in the starting line-up ever since they traded for Antawn Jamison.

1 vote – Kevin Durant: Though Russell Westbrook provided the scoring impetus for much of the game, it was Kevin Durant’s absolute ownage of Kobe in the 4th quarter that ultimately gave the Thunder their first ever playoff win. With 9 or so minutes left in the game, the scores were virtually tied, and watching the game it almost felt as if the big bad Lakers were once again going to roll the Thunder. Then Scott Brooks made a cracker of an adjustment. With Sefalosha on the bench, he switched Kevin Durant onto Kobe Bryant, hoping the length of Kid Delicious would bother Bryant. It worked like a charm. Kobe threw up contested brick after contested brick, settling for jumpers when he really should have been attacking Durant off the dribble (amazingly Kobe did not get to the line once the entire game). Struggling on offense, Kobe decided to make an impact defensively, waving off Artest and trying to guard Durant himself. Having shot 4-for-18 up to that point against Artest’s tough D, Durant just went to town on Kobe, nailing several buckets in a row to give the Thunder breathing room, and eventually the win.

Honourable Mentions: Jason Richardson, Russell Westbrook, Joakim Noah.


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