Kawhi Leonard added a signature sequence to his MVP candidacy during Monday's 112-110 victory over the Houston Rockets before the NBA reportedly selected him for a random drug test in the immediate aftermath, per Michael C. Wright of ESPN.
Leonard hit a go-ahead three and blocked fellow MVP candidate James Harden within the final 30 seconds of the dramatic win on his way to 39 points, six rebounds, five assists, two blocks and a steal.
McCollum and the Blazers Snapped Postseason Losing Streak for "Jennifer"
Stars Invest in Plant-Based Food as Vegetarianism Sweeps NBA
The NBA Got Some Wild Techs This Season
Jarrett Allen Is One of the NBA’s Hottest Rim Protectors
Wade's Jersey Swaps Created Epic Moments This Season
Westbrook Makes History While Honoring Nipsey Hussle
Devin Booker Makes History with Scoring Tear
29 Years Ago, Jordan Dropped Career-High 69 Points
Bosh Is Getting His Jersey Raised to the Rafters in Miami
Steph Returns to Houston for 1st Time Since His Moon Landing Troll
Lou Williams Is Coming for a Repeat of Sixth Man of the Year
Pat Beverley Has the Clippers Stealing the LA Shine
LeBron Keeps Shredding NBA Record Books
Young's Hot Streak Is Heating Up the ROY Race with Luka
LeBron and 2 Chainz Form a Superteam to Release a New Album
Wade's #OneLastDance Dominated February
Warriors Fans Go Wild After Unforgettable Moments with Steph
Eight Years Ago, the Nuggets Traded Melo to the Knicks
Two Years Ago, the Kings Shipped Boogie to the Pelicans
ASG Will Be Competitive Again If the NBA Raises the Stakes
While the timing may seem suspicious following such a superhuman performance, Wright clarified the NBA randomly tests several times throughout the year, with four coming during the season.
Wright stressed Leonard "would've been tested if he had gone 0 for 40," quelling any lingering suspicion about the NBA's decision.
With that question answered, attention can turn to whether Leonard will win the MVP over the likes of Harden, Russell Westbrook and LeBron James. Josh Eberley of Hoop magazine noted Leonard's thriving against elite competition with MVP-caliber play Monday was business as usual this season:
A two-time Defensive Player of the Year, he guards the opponent's best player on a nightly basis, as he did with Harden on Monday. Opponents are shooting 1.6 percent worse than their normal averages when he guards them this season, per NBA.com.
With that defensive dominance in mind, teammate Pau Gasol discussed Leonard's MVP candidacy after Monday's contest, per Tim Cato of SB Nation, "He's contributing on both ends of the floor as opposed to a guy who just scores 30 PPG and that is it."
Leonard certainly did just that against the Rockets with the game on the line, even if he had to prove he was clean after the victory.