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updated: 3/4/2012 12:12 AM

Bulls' Rose not in MVP picture

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  • Bulls guard Derrick Rose right drives around San Antonio Spurs' Tony Parker Wednesday during the first half.

    Bulls guard Derrick Rose right drives around San Antonio Spurs' Tony Parker Wednesday during the first half.
    associated press


A Derrick Rose repeat doesn't seem to be in the cards.

The battle for NBA Most Valuable Player has already moved past the primary stage to become a two-man race between Miami's LeBron James and Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant.

Technically, Rose is as valuable as he's ever been. The Bulls (30-8) are in the thick of a three-team race for the NBA's best record with the Heat and Thunder.

Teammate Carlos Boozer delivered some strong praise after Rose helped power the Bulls to a 112-91 win at Cleveland on Friday.

"D-Rose can do whatever he wants whenever he wants," Boozer said. "The great thing about him is any moment he can take over a game. He has his imprint on every game we play. It's fun playing with him, but it's also fun to watch."

But missing 10 games with toe and back injuries has hurt Rose's cause. While he can take over a game as well as anyone, Rose is also utilizing his teammates well.

Last season when he became the league's youngest MVP by a wide margin, Rose averaged an even 25.0 points. This season, that number has dropped slightly to 22.3. His assists and rebounds are down slightly, while his field-goal percentage and turnovers have improved.

But what Rose has done this season doesn't match up well against James and Durant.

James is having one of his best seasons, averaging 27.9 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.8 assists.

He's shooting .553 overall and .420 from 3-point range, both career-highs, and also ranks ninth in the league in steals.

Durant is averaging 28.0 points, 7.9 rebounds and 3.4 assists, while shooting an impressive .512 from the field.

Last year, we all used the lone-star argument with Rose.

James had his Power Trio teammates to make his life easier, Rose didn't and the Bulls still finished with a better regular-season record.

That's still true, but Oklahoma City's two-star system helps even things out.

Durant's wingman, Russell Westbrook, is fifth in the league in scoring (23.6 ppg), while Miami's Dwyane Wade is sixth at 23.1. The Bulls' second-leading scorer is Luol Deng at 15.9 points per game.

The question now seems to be how to decide between James and Durant for MVP.

Team success could make a difference, if the Heat or Thunder pulls away to grab the best record.

More likely, the team records will be similar, so voters may turn to the "clutch factor."

James is getting criticized for not taking the final shot in Friday's loss at Utah.

With Miami trailing by 1 point and less than five seconds remaining, James took one look at Utah's Paul Millsap sliding over for a soft double-team and dished a pass to Udonis Haslem, who missed a 17-footer.

Even though the result counted for nothing, James also took some heat in the All-Star Game for passing the ball, and turning it over, instead of attempting a potential tying shot.

At the same time, James was phenomenal in both games, producing 35 points and 10 rebounds against the Jazz.

He's having trouble shaking the not-clutch label that rang so loudly after the Finals loss to Dallas.

Yes, it does seem possible the anti-LeBron bias will turn voters toward Durant for MVP.

James created this mess with "The Decision", along with a number of other antics and unfortunate comments, so no point complaining about it.

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