x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

NBA: LeBron James named MVP once again

Miami Heat star becomes youngest to win the trophy four times. Plus news from the second round of the play-off series.

LeBron James has won the MVP for the second year in a row. Matt Slocum / AP Photo
LeBron James has won the MVP for the second year in a row. Matt Slocum / AP Photo

The NBA made it official on Sunday, announcing Miami Heat superstar LeBron James was a near-unanimous choice as Most Valuable Player, earning the award for a second straight year and fourth time overall.

James's victory in the voting had been widely reported since Friday, although when asked about it the player himself had urged reporters not to "jinx" him by jumping the gun.

He need not have worried.

James garnered 120 first-place votes from a possible 121 which included a 120-member media panel and a fan poll conducted on NBA.com that counted for one vote.

"It is probably a writer out of New York that didn't give me the vote," James said. "I know the history between the Heat and the Knicks so I get it."

James received a total of 1,207 points in the balloting, with Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant a distant second with 765 points and the New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony third with 475 points and one first-place vote.

No player has ever been a unanimous winner. James matched Shaquille O'Neal – as a Los Angeles Laker in 2001 – in receiving all but one first-place vote.

"He deserves it," teammate Ray Allen said. "What he's done for this team, we've come to expect so many things. He set the bar so high, but what he does is miraculous."

James joins legends Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Russell as MVP award winners at least four times in their careers.

"It is very humbling. I am just trying to leave my mark and impact," James said.

James's four MVP trophies have come in the span of five seasons, a feat only previously accomplished by Russell, who won in 1961, 1962, 1963 and 1965.

James also won in 2009, 2010 and 2012, with Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose interrupted his streak in 2011.

"King James" averaged 26.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.0 blocked shots a game in 76 appearances this season, his 10th in the NBA.

He shot career bests of 56.5 per cent from the field and 40.6 per cent from 3-point range and finished second in NBA Defensive Player of the Year voting to Spanish big man Marc Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies.

At 28, James is the youngest player in NBA history to win a fourth regular season MVP award. Abdul-Jabbar, a record six-time MVP award winner, won five by age 30.

Indiana Pacers 102, New York Knicks 95

David West scored 20 points as the visiting Indiana Pacers rallied from a first-quarter deficit to beat the New York Knicks 102-95 in Game 1 of their NBA second round play-off series on Sunday.

All five starters finished in double figures for the Pacers, who played with an edge but kept their composure to bring back memories of the Indiana teams of the 1990s that battled hard against their New York Eastern Conference rivals.

"We did a good job of taking advantage of our shots and finishing around the rim," said power forward West of the Pacers, who outrebounded the Knicks 44-30. "We were attacking, we were aggressive."

The Pacers squared off against the Knicks three consecutive years beginning with the 1993 post-season then again between 1998 and 2000.

Centre Roy Hibbert finished with 14 points, eight rebounds and five blocks in the best-of-seven series.

Oklahoma City Thunder 93, Memphis Grizzlies 91

Kevin Durant scored 35 points and hit a pair of jumpers in the final minute to lift the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 93-91 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday in Game 1 of the Western Conference semi-finals.

In Oklahoma City, Derek Fisher poked the ball away from Mike Conley to spring Durant the other way, and he pulled up to make a shot with 11.1 seconds left that put Oklahoma City up 91-90.

Quincy Pondexter had a chance to send the game to overtime when he was fouled attempting a 3-pointer with Memphis trailing 93-90 and 1.6 seconds remaining. But he missed the first free throw.

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