Three Stars of the Night: Bombs Away

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Chicks dig the long ball, right? Well, for tonight’s Three Stars we’ve got some sharp shooting goodness from behind the arc, a man who’s getting awful comfortable in this space, and an off the bench performance that sunk the struggling Lakers.

Third Star: Randy Foye (17 points, 5-9 three pointers)

It wasn’t so much the efficiency as Foye only hit 5 of his 11 shots from the floor (though all of them were three pointers). It wasn’t the fact that he led his team in scoring (sorry, that was Al Jefferson with 18 points). And it wasn’t the fact that Foye stuffed the stat sheet in other areas that helped his team win the game (he only had one rebound and no assists on the night). Nope. It was none of that.

It was the fact that Foye hit big shot after big shot in the 4th quarter against the Lakers to keep them reeling on the ropes and ultimately delivered the knock out blow. With the Lakers making a push in the middle of the period and closing the gap to a very manageable five points, Foye hit three pointers on back to back to back possessions to put the Jazz back up by eleven.

After the final shot went through the net the Lakers comeback was toast and Foye was the hero for his team. He felt so good, he even tried to chest bump his head coach (who wasn’t having any of it).

Second Star: Kenneth Faried (16 points, 16 rebounds)

After making this list for the second straight night, we may just have to start a Faried feature here at PBT. After his performance tonight in the Nuggets win over the Rockets, he’s certainly earned it.

With Faried it’s pretty simple. He simply out-works and out-hustles you on every play. He’s a demon around the paint on both ends of the floor, tireless on the glass, and finds a way to get baskets even though he’s undersized. Tonight he was a real difference maker for the Nuggets. Plus, he hooked up with Andre Miller on an early candidate for lob of the year:

First Star: Shannon Brown (24 points in 24 minutes, 6-8 from behind the arc)

Sometimes a player gets so hot that you really can’t believe what you’re seeing. Everything coming off his hand looks like it’s going in and nearly every single time it actually does. Tonight, in the 4th quarter of the Suns/Bobcats game, that was Shannon Brown.

Coming into that final period, Brown had performed quite normally in scoring six points on only 1-4 shooting. And then it all changed. One deep three fell through off an assist from Sebastian Telfair. Then another hit the bottom of the net. Then another. THEN ANOTHER.

By the time the period was over Brown had hit six threes in the period without missing a single one and had helped the Suns pull out the win on the road. There aren’t many nights where any player is going to be that hot for even a short stretch of the game, much less an entire period. It was a sight to behold. See for yourself:

After Thunder win, Russell Westbrook trolls Joel Embiid, waves goodbye, tells him to “go home”

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Joel Embiid was making friends all over the court on Friday night.

First, he got into a jawing match with Carmelo Anthony. Also during the first overtime, Embiid blocked Russell Westbrook‘s driving attempt at a game winner.

After the Thunder, Westbrook trolled Embiid by waving goodbye to the Sixers’ center, who was yelling back at him.

When asked about it, Westbrook said Embiid was talking a lot so he told the Sixers center to go home.

That can have some serious connotations — Embiid was born in Cameroon. Westbrook may have meant “go to the locker room” or “go to where you live,” but considering Embiid is an immigrant it comes off very poorly for Westbrook.

Embiid threw a little fire back at Westbrook.

The league office is going to be looking into this one.

DeMarcus Cousins doesn’t expect Pelicans to trade him at the deadline

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The New Orleans Pelicans have a decision to make as they approach the trade deadline: Do they think they can re-sign DeMarcus Cousins next summer to stay in the Big Easy with Anthony Davis?

If the answer is no, then they have to consider trading Cousins at the deadline to at least get something back. There is a lot of context, however, that makes this seeming binary trade/keep decision far more complicated.

Cousins himself doesn’t think he is going anywhere, as he told Marc Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated.

While the Pelicans have a lot to consider with the unrestricted free agent, Cousins says he is confident that he will still be playing for New Orleans after the Feb. 8 trade deadline.

“I am confident in my team,” Cousins said. “I am starting to understand this business a lot more than I did before. You can kind of tell when things are about to come about. We’re a very competitive team. A talented team. I don’t think that will be the case at all….

“A.D. hits me with little jabs about free agency all the time, but he also understands,” Cousins said. “It was Jrue in that situation last [offseason], and we understood his situation. Of course, they throw their little jabs. They throw their little jokes. But they are serious at the same time. They are respectful about it at the same time.

The Pelicans are 15-14 and the seven seed in the West entering Friday night’s games, and if New Orleans has a shot at the playoffs come the deadline there is no way he gets moved. Ownership and management want a playoff appearance. They have greenlit adding one of the game’s top centers (Cousins) to go next to Davis, and last summer they paid big to keep Jrue Holiday at the point in New Orleans. If the Pelicans don’t make the playoffs (and possibly even if they do squeak in and get swept out in an ugly fashion), everyone in the organization expects a housecleaning. They have been on edge all season. With jobs on the line, they are not trading Cousins and getting worse short term even if you could argue it was the right basketball move long term.

Will Cousins re-sign with the Pelicans next summer? That will be about the money — what the Pelicans offer, and what other teams will offer in what is expected to be a tight free agent market, especially for centers.  DeAndre Jordan will be on the market as well, not to mention second-tier guys who will be more affordable for teams such as Brook Lopez. In that market, Cousins may want to stay where he likes his teammates and seems happy.

But first he has to get past the trade deadline.

Joel Embiid scores over Carmelo Anthony, then they exchange words (VIDEO)

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Joel Embiid gives zero… well, you know where I’m going with that.

Embiid trolls the world and backs down from no man, and that includes Carmelo Anthony. Late in the fourth quarter of the barn burner between the Thunder and 76ers Friday night, Embiid backed ‘Melo down and scored over him, then did a little jawing — which Anthony didn’t appreciate.

I love that Embiid egged on the Sixers crowd after this. He knows his audience. After the game he said this.

Embiid talks a lot — A LOT — but he is backing it up.

For example, in the first overtime Russell Westbrook thought he made a drive that was going to win the game, and Embiid rejected him.

If you did not watch this game, go find a replay. This is the new best game of the season.

Rudy Gobert leaves game vs. Celtics with likely knee sprain. Again.

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Rudy Gobert missed 11 games this season due to a bone bruise in his knee. While the Jazz defense suffered as should have been expected with their anchor gone, their offense found a groove without him — and with more Donovan Mitchell and Derrick Favors — resulting in Utah going 7-4 with their star center out.

Now the Jazz will be without him again for a while — he seems to have sprained his left knee just minutes into Friday night’s game against the Celtics when Favors fell back into him. That is the same knee he injured before. Gobert was forced to leave and will not return to the game.

If that diagnosis holds, it will be weeks again the Jazz will be without Gobert.

The Jazz know how to play without Gobert. Favors moves to center and while he’s not near the same defender his offensive skills got them buckets and opened up the floor. The rookie Mitchell, as well as Ricky Rubio at points, took advantage of it to give the Jazz a top-10 offense with Gobert out. They need to find that groove again.

Still, Utah needs Gobert back and himself to really reach the heights they are capable of.