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James Harden holds steady at the top

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A look back at the top moments from this past weekend in the NBA.
USA TODAY Sports

USA TODAY Sports’ top five candidates for the 2016-17 NBA MVP award (from Monday, Feb. 6 through Saturday, Feb. 11).

Also receiving votes: Boston Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas, Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry, Washington Wizards’ John Wall

Power rankings: Warriors assert dominance, Knicks hit rock bottom

► Rookie of the Year race: Embiid holds top spot despite injury

5. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors (46-8)

Season statistics: 25.9 points, 8.4 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.7 blocks, 1.1 steals, 53.5% shooting

Durant, returning to his old Oklahoma City stomping grounds on Saturday night for the first time since his offseason departure for The Bay, dropped a team-high 34 points (on 12-of-21 shooting) and nine rebounds en route to a 130-114 victory. In three games against the Thunder this season, the Warriors have won by 63 combined points and Durant has played three of his best games of the season, averaging 37.7 points (on 65.6% shooting) and 9.3 rebounds.

4. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers (37-16)

Season statistics: 25.8 points, 8.8 assists, 7.8 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 53.3% shooting

The Cavaliers started off the week with a bang with a thrilling overtime win over the Wizards — who had won 17 straight games at home — in Washington, highlighted by LeBron James’ game-tying three-pointer to send the game to overtime, which came right after he blew a go-ahead layup. Though he fouled out in overtime, James finished with 32 points (on 12-of-18 shooting) and a career-high 17 assists. He followed that up with a 25-point, nine-assist outing in a win over the Pacers. He struggled from the field the night after (18 points, 8-of-19 shooting) in a loss to the Thunder, but bounced back on Saturday with 27 points (on 11-of-16 shooting), 12 assists and five rebounds in a 125-109 win over the Nuggets.

3. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs (41-13)

Season statistics: 25.8 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.8 steals, 48.6% shooting

After sitting out of Monday night’s loss to the Grizzlies with a quad injury, Leonard put together back-to-back MVP-esque performances. In Wednesday’s win over the 76ers, he tallied 32 points (on 9-of-18 shooting), six rebounds and five assists. In Friday’s win over the Pistons? He had 32 points (on 11-of-22 shooting), six rebounds and five assists — again.

“He’s got the whole package,” teammate Manu Ginobili told reporters after Wednesday’s win. “He’s the main reason we’re getting all these wins when we’re not playing well.”

2. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder (31-24)

Season statistics: 31.2 points, 10.5 rebounds, 10.2 assists, 1.6 steals, 42.2% shooting

Westbrook suffered his third loss of the season to the Warriors on Saturday, but it wasn’t for lack of effort. The superstar point guard poured in 47 points (on 14-of-26 shooting), 11 rebounds and eight assists on the night. On Monday, he tallied 27 points, a season-high 18 rebounds and nine assists in a loss to the Pacers, followed by a 29-point, 12-rebound, 11-assist outing — his 26th triple-double of the season — in Thursday’s win over the Cavaliers.

1. James Harden, Houston Rockets (40-17)

Season statistics: 29.1 points, 11.3 assists, 8.2 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 44% shooting

It was just another week at the office for The Beard, who led the Rockets to three straight wins behind 31.7-point, 9.7-assist, 7.7-rebound averages. He struggled from the field during Tuesday’s win over Orlando (6-of-21 shooting, 25 points), but the highlight of his week came on Saturday, when he dropped 40 points on 9-of-17 shooting (8-of-15 from three) and added eight assists and six rebounds in just 29 minutes en route to a 133-102 rout of the Suns. This season, Harden leads the NBA in assist points created (27.4 per game) and passes made (67.4 per game).

List of voters: USA TODAY Sports’ Jeff Zillgitt, Sam Amick, Kevin Spain, AJ Neuharth-Keusch and Michael Singer; The Arizona Republic’s Doug Haller; The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal’s Ronald Tillery; Detroit Free Press’ Vince Ellis; Indianapolis Star’s Nate Taylor; The (Bergen) Record’s Steve Popper; HoopsHype.com’s Jorge Sierra and Raul Barrigon; USA TODAY Sports Weekly’s Howard Megdal.

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