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Irving drops 55 on Portland; Parsons says Harden is the MVP


Holy hell, Kyrie Irving. 55 is a lot of points.

The Cleveland Cavaliers starting point guard was sensational last night, leading his team past the vaunted Portland Trail Blazers, 99-94. Irving shot 17-for-36, tallying 56 percent of his team’s points with LeBron James out of action, resting with a day-to-day wrist ailment.

It’s fitting that Irving’s performance came against Portland, too. The Blazers are one of the many teams the Cavs lost to at the peak of their early-season growing pains — 101-82, on November 4. Now, Cleveland has shifted course, and they’ve matched their season-best eight-game winning streak behind Irving’s scintillating play.

It’s particularly encouraging to fans in northeast Ohio to see their team beating a quality opponent without the basketball king, James, who recently said Irving is becoming a leader beneath him in his own singular way. With a game like last night’s, it’s hard to dispute that claim. Take a look as Kyrie torches the Blazers:

South in Texas, Irving’s Team USA running mate James Harden was getting props from an old frenemy. Former teammate Chandler Parsons — now a forward with the in-state rival Dallas Mavericks — says The Beard needs to be recognized as this season’s MVP.

“He's the best player in basketball right now," Parsons told reporters before his Mavs fell 99-94 to Harden's Houston Rockets. "The things he's doing are incredible. The scouting report is focused in on stopping him and you see he's still getting 30 a game. It's impressive. It doesn't really surprise me. I saw firsthand how talented he is. He works extremely hard. He's playing better defense this year. He's leading their team. He's hitting tough shots. There's not much he's not doing.”

Harden dropped 17 points, eight assists and five rebounds to lead Houston, who grabbed the victory despite Dwight Howard missing the contest. The resume continues to build.

— John Wilmes