On Rockets center Yao Ming (right), a leading MVP candidate who at week's end had scored more than 30 points in four of his last five games:
"The difference in Yao comes down to two things: conditioning and his willingness to embrace the role of go-to guy. The book on Yao in the past was to run at him, get him in the pick-and-roll and out on the perimeter, try to wear him out. But he just doesn't wear down like he used to. Also, Jeff Van Gundy makes sure Yao touches the ball on almost every possession; they are force-feeding him in the post sometimes. Last year Tracy McGrady was still the first option, but this year Yao clearly is the guy. And he wants it. He's emotional, he's aggressive."