Oklahoma City Thunder forward Durant is guarded by Los Angeles Clippers' Griffin and Odom during their NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City

Three Stars of the Night, two Kevins, and one kiss


Just a monster 14-game slate this Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, so before we give you our Three Stars, let’s break off a few honorable mentions.

In Boston, there was Tony Parker shredding the Celtics for 26 points and six assists on 12-of-17 shooting. In Miami, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade each had 28 points, but it was the play of Chris Bosh, who finished with 24 points on 14 shots and 18 rebounds that once again proved to be most important for the Heat in their overtime win over the Bucks.

In Phoenix, Marcin Gortat got the touches he asked for, and delivered with 22 points on 11-of-14 shooting, to go along with seven rebounds as the Suns blew out the Blazers by 27.

Now, onto the most stellar.

Third Star: Paul George – 37 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 9-of-13 shooting from three:

The Pacers are a long way from getting right, needing overtime to get a home win over a Hornets team playing without Anthony Davis. But if they can get more players to step up the way George did tonight, they may have a fighting chance to not be terrible as the season progresses for the next few months with Danny Granger recovering from injury.

Second Star: Kevin Love – 34 points, 14 rebounds, 12-of-25 shooting: 

Well, this was a pleasant surprise. No one was expecting Love back anytime soon, with the timetable for his return thought to be at least two or more weeks away. But not only was Love active for this one, he played as if he had never left, posting a big-time double-double in his first appearance of the season. The loss to Denver notwithstanding, Love’s game by itself was supremely impressive.

First Star: Kevin Durant – 35 points on 19 shots, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 steals: 

OKC needed every bit of Durant’s big game to hold off the Clippers in overtime, even with Chris Paul uncharacteristically struggling mightily to get the job done offensively. But in addition to the huge numbers and the big buckets, Durant delivered a kiss to a courtside fan who was on the unfortunate business end of one of his errant passes. Just one more reason why Durant is one of the game’s most humble and likable superstars.

Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver

Manu Ginobili, Harrison Barnes, Tim Duncan
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The Spurs are 12-3 and comfortably in second place in the West, they have the best defense in the NBA allowing just 93.8 points per 100 possessions, and they have a top-10 offense to go with it.

So, time to start making sure guys are rested.

That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.

Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.

What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.

Brandon Armstrong impersonates Ray Allen (video)

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Ray Allen is retired-ish, but he’ll always be running through screens – in our mind and in this video.

Celtics draft pick Marcus Thornton gets beer dumped on head during Australian game (video)

Marcus Thornton, Will Cherry

The Celtics drafted Marcus Thornton with No. 45 pick in the 2015 NBA draft. That essentially entitled him to the required tender – a one-year contract offer, surely unguaranteed at the minimum.

Thornton rejected that, which is almost always a mistake.

Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.

By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.

Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.

How’s that going?

(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.

Byron Scott says they just have to get Kobe Bryant better looks

Kobe Bryant, Joe Johnson, Byron Scott

Kobe Bryant is averaging 15.2 points a game at age 37. It’s just taking him 16.4 shots per game to get there. After his 1-of-14 shooting performance against the Warriors the other night — with too much isolation and too many plays run just for him — there has been a lot of talk about his shot. With reason, this is his shot chart so far this season.

Kobe shotchart season

So what do the Lakers’ do? Get Kobe to shoot less and get the ball in the hands of the young stars they supposed to be developing more? Nah.

They just need to get Kobe better looks, Scott told the Los Angeles Times.

“I know his mentality is that he can still play in this league,” Scott said. “And we feel the same way….

“Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot, and I think everybody can see that,” Scott said. “So it’s trying to get him in better position to be able to have an opportunity to knock those shots down on a consistent basis. That’s No. 1.

“I don’t know if it’s his legs. I don’t think so. Again, our conversations are pretty blunt. … He tells me when he is tired and he tells me when he’s not tired. And the last few days, he said he feels great. So, I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired or his legs being tired. I think it’s a matter of his timing being a little off.”

Yes, how could it be his legs? It’s not like he’s a 37-year-old with more than 55,000 NBA minutes played, and coming off an Achilles rupture and major knee surgery.

Honestly, I hope the Lakers and Kobe find a balance soon, because they have become just hard to watch. And I don’t want Kobe to go out this way.