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MVP power rankings: Russell Westbrook charges to the top

James Harden is still No. 1, but his former Thunder teammate is emerging as his top challenger.

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA MVP race just keeps getting better every night, especially with Anthony Davis healthy again. James Harden remains on top, but the gap is minuscule as the race remains wide open heading into the final month of action.

1. James Harden (Last week: 1)

Harden missed a chance to deliver an MVP statement against the Hawks because of the groin shot he gave LeBron James two Sundays ago. Then, the shooting guard faltered on a late play against the Grizzlies the next night, although the NBA admitted a foul should have been called on Zach Randolph on Harden's drive to the basket.

Harden responded with a triple-double (his third of the season), putting up a 38-12-12 stat line in a win over Detroit. Per usual, much of his damage came at the line, as he went 16-of-18 from the charity stripe.

The next night, in a fourth game in five nights, Harden put up 28 points, seven assists and four rebounds in a win at Denver. That's a tough place to play a fourth game in five nights because of the altitude, but it didn't matter to Harden.

2. Russell Westbrook (Last week: 3)

Westbrook has become must-see TV every damn night. There's not a more electrifying player in the league right now. He's not perfect, but he's putting up video game numbers and doing all he can to will the Thunder to the postseason with Kevin Durant still on the shelf.

You know you're in the middle of a good run when a 30-point, 17-assist, 11-rebound triple-double feels "pedestrian." He has five triple-doubles in his last six games and he's averaging a triple-double since the All-Star break.

In the last three games, Westbrook has been wearing a protective mask because of surgery to his face. It didn't stop him:

The man is a cyborg.

3. Stephen Curry (Last week: 2)

Curry had a few relatively quiet games in a row last week and he only had 12 points on 3-of-9 shooting in a win over the Clippers on Sunday. But one of those three makes was quite a thing:

That's peak Stephen Curry.

Then on Monday night, Curry exploded against the Suns after a slow start, pouring in 36 points on 14-of-24 shooting overall and 7-of-13 from the three. It's tough to drop Curry, but Westbrook has just been too good, especially without Durant.

4. Anthony Davis (Last week: 6)

Davis returned from a shoulder injury last week and promptly put up 39 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists. In the five games back, he averaged 29.8 points, 10.6 rebounds, 4.2 blocks and 3.2 assists.

That includes a 43/10/6 line in a hard-fought road win over the Bucks on Monday:

Davis turns 22 today and he could wind up with the best PER ever in a single season. That's insane.

5. LeBron James (Last week: 4)

James put together an MVP-level performance against the Raptors last Wednesday, dropping 29 points, 14 assists and six rebounds in a thrilling road win that featured plenty of fireworks in the fourth quarter. James provided some of those fireworks with two dagger threes and a filthy finish on a drive to the basket to put the game away.

But the four-time MVP drops this week because of two weaker performances following the game in Toronto. Specifically, James had one of his worst performances of the year in Atlanta on Friday, with just 18 points on 5-of-13 shooting and a whopping nine turnovers. He admitted afterward that he sucked.

James bounced back against the Mavericks on Wednesday, putting up 27 points, eight assists and seven boards. However, it wasn't quite enough to stick at No. 4.

6. Chris Paul (Last week: 5)

Paul was marvelous against the Trail Blazers last week and it looked like his brilliant performance was going to lead to another big victory without Blake Griffin. The point guard finished with 36 points, 12 assists and six rebounds, but a late collapse resulted in a heartbreaking overtime loss, which featured him missing a potential game-winner in regulation.

Paul had a double-double against the Warriors on Sunday, but the Clippers lost a second consecutive game. Paul then gutted through a knee injury against the Timberwolves on Monday, and although he had just two points, he dished out 15 assists.

7. Marc Gasol (Last week: 7)

Despite stuffing the stat sheet against Davis's Pelicans, Gasol didn't do quite enough in a tough loss over the weekend. However, the big man did do enough in two impressive wins in the last week.

First, Gasol had 21 points on 10-of-14 shooting against the Rockets, with his 10th and final field goal a last-second floater:

Then on Monday, Gasol outdueled his brother, Pau, in a tight win over Chicago. Marc had 23 points on 10-of-16 shooting in the victory, and his presence on defense helped the Grizzlies come up with big stops when they needed them late.

8. Jeff Teague (Last week: 10)

Teague has gotten off to a great start in March, averaging 19.0 points and 6.5 assists while shooting 51.0 percent overall and 41.7 percent from three as the Hawks became the first team to clinch a playoff spot and reach 50 wins.

Teague delivered a signature performance against the Rockets, scoring 25 points on 7-of-12 shooting in 31 minutes, with eight of those points coming in the fourth quarter in a stirring comeback victory.

9. LaMarcus Aldridge (Last week: 8)

Aldridge remains a steadying force for the Trail Blazers, who'll need him more than ever now that Wesley Matthews is out for the year with a torn Achilles. Aldridge had 29 points and nine rebounds in the comeback win over the Clippers, and he put forth two other solid performances following that, although one came in a loss in Minnesota.

10. Damian Lillard (Last week: 9)

Lillard had a disastrous shooting night in the overtime win over the Clippers, going just 1-of-13 from the field. However, he contributed in another way by grabbing a career-high 18 rebounds. The point guard also put up 32 points, eight assists and seven rebounds in the loss to the Timberwolves, so he can't take the blame for that.

Next five: John Wall, Klay Thompson, Al Horford, DeAndre Jordan, Kyrie Irving