Photo: Harry How/Getty Images

LeBron James led the Lakers to season-defining wins over the NBA-best Bucks and rival Clippers this weekend, all while playing lockdown defense on reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard — the two strongest challengers to his throne in recent years.

Why it matters: James' weekend statement may have changed the course of the MVP race, which Antetokounmpo — who will miss at least two games with a sprained knee — has been heavily favored to win for months.

The big picture: If James leapfrogs Antetokounmpo in the season's final weeks, he will clinch his fifth league MVP, tying him with Michael Jordan for second all-time behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six).

By the numbers: James, who became the third player in NBA history to reach 34,000 points, is on pace to average 25+ points per game for a record 16th season. The next closest are Jordan, Karl Malone, and Kobe Bryant — all with 12 such seasons.

What to watch: A Lakers-Clippers playoff series — which has never happened — would be a blessing from the basketball gods. But as yesterday proved, the Lakers would have home-court advantage in all seven games, underscoring the Clippers' need for their own home.

Go deeper: The average NBA team is now worth $2.1 billion

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Trump commutes Roger Stone's sentence

Roger Stone arriving at his sentencing hearing on Feb. 20. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump on Friday evening commuted the sentence of his longtime associate Roger Stone, according to two senior administration officials. Stone in February was sentenced to 40 months in prison for crimes including obstruction, witness tampering and making false statements to Congress.

Why it matters: The controversial move brings an abrupt end to the possibility of Stone spending time behind bars. He had been scheduled to report to prison on July 14.

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

Which states have set single-day coronavirus records this week

Data: COVID Tracking Project and state health department data compiled by Axios; Map: Danielle Alberti and Naema Ahmed/Axios

13 states this week surpassed records set just last week for their highest number of coronavirus infections in a single day, according to the COVID Tracking Project and state health department data. 16 states in total reported new highs.

The big picture: The United States' alarming rise in coronavirus cases isn't just due to increased testing — particularly where the number of cases has grown fastest over the last month, Axios' Andrew Witherspoon and Caitlin Owens report.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 6:30 p.m. ET: 12,389,660 — Total deaths: 557,279 — Total recoveries — 6,830,596Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 6:30 p.m. ET: 3,169,611 — Total deaths: 133,885 — Total recoveries: 983,185 — Total tested: 38,856,341Map.
  3. Public health: The reality of the coronavirus bites.
  4. Trade: Trump says he's no longer considering phase-two trade deal with China because the pandemic damaged the two countries' relationship.
  5. 🎧 Podcast: Rural America has its own coronavirus problem.