Nine-Fingered Kobe Enough To Stop LeBron James

How confident is Kobe Bryant that he deserves the MVP Award? He intentionally dislocated his right ring finger before their game last night and still dispatched the Cavaliers with relative ease.

"Officially," Bryant injured his hand swatting at the basketball in the opening minutes, but that's just him being humble. The trainer popped it back in the place and he went back out to put up 20 points and 12 assists as the Lakers rolled, 105-88. LeBron had 23 and nine rebounds, but is probably questioning his strategy of pulling four physical therapy patients out of a nearby hospital to be his teammates. Orlando now has the percentage points lead in the Eastern Conference and the Cavs probably have some work to do. [AP]

The rest of the NBA was a little more competitive with several Alcoa Fantastic Finishes:

New Orleans 103, Indiana 100: Danny Granger (30 points) hit a clutch three-pointer to tie the game, but foolishly left 2.5 seconds on the clock—just enough time for Chris Paul to drain a fall away from the parking lot and give the Hornets a buzzer-beating win. New Orleans also lost both centers when Tyson Chandler rolled his ankle and his replacement Hilton Armstong tweaked his knee. Eh, who needs big men?

Dallas 95, Philadelphia 93: Dirk Nowitzki missed 13 of his first 14 shots, but pulled a Christian Laettner, swishing a turnaround jumper to beat Philly at the horn. “I’m a shooter,” Nowitzki said. “I always think the next one is going in.” I believe those were Lee Harvey Oswald's final words.

San Antonio 86, Charlotte 84: Raymond Felton hit a game-winning shot with 2 seconds left... I'm sorry, Tim Duncan swatted that game-winner away and a desperation three by Boris Diaw bounced harmlessly off the rim. Way to ruin the theme, guys.

Houston 115, Denver 113: Denver had a potential game-winning bucket called off on a charging call, and Kenyon Martin blew a second chance to tie the game for the Nuggets when he missed two foul shots with 2.6 seconds left. Yao Ming had 31 points, none of which were scored at the buzzer.

Monday Game Highlights [NBA.com]