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James claims third MVP trophy

MIAMI -- Heat forward LeBron James is the NBA's MVP for a third time, putting him alongside some of the game's all-time greats.

A person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press that James will be announced today as this year's winner of the league's top individual honor, and that he'll be formally presented with the trophy by Commissioner David Stern on Sunday afternoon before Miami hosts Indiana in Game One of an Eastern Conference semifinal series.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the league has not announced the results.

James is winning the award for the third time in four seasons. Only seven other players -- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Moses Malone -- have at least three MVP trophies.

James said last week that while another MVP award "would be amazing and would be humbling," it's not what drives him. In his ninth season, James still has not won an NBA title and it's clear that, although he wanted to reclaim the MVP trophy, winning a championship is far and away his top basketball priority.

"What I'm all about is team and ever since I was a kid, I was always taught it's team first," James told the AP on Friday. "My first time playing basketball, we went undefeated and won a championship and Frank Walker Sr. gave everyone on the team an MVP trophy. Right then and there, I knew that this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to see my teammates reap the benefits as well."

Abdul-Jabbar won the MVP six times, Jordan and Russell five times each, Chamberlain four times. After this weekend, they'll be the only players with more than James.

"I think he's probably as committed as he's ever been in his career," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said this week, asked to summarize James' season. "And he's always been committed. We all respond to his energy on the court."

James averaged 27.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists -- making him only the fourth player with those totals in at least two different seasons, according to STATS LLC, joining Oscar Robertson, John Havlicek and Bird.

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Grizzlies stay alive

LOS ANGELES -- Marc Gasol scored 23 points, Zach Randolph had 18 points and 16 rebounds, and the Memphis Grizzles rallied in the fourth quarter to beat the Los Angeles Clippers, 90-88, Friday night, forcing a decisive seventh game in the series.

Rudy Gay and Mike Conley added 13 points each to help the Grizzlies win for the first time in the Western Conference series at Staples Center.

Blake Griffin scored 17 points despite a sprained left knee that limited his jumping ability, and Eric Bledoe added 14 off the bench to lead the Clippers, who blew an eight-point lead in the fourth along with a second consecutive chance to close out the series.

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Today's games

*With a third straight victory over the Los Angeles Lakers tonight (10:30 p.m., TNT), the Denver Nuggets would become only the ninth team to escape a 3-1 series deficit and advance.

*The Celtics and Sixers didn't have much time to rest after winning a series in the first round on Thursday. They go back to work tonight in the second round (8 p.m., TNT).

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