There were plenty of stellar performances on a night that featured an 11-game slate.
Kyle Lowry continues to toil in obscurity in Toronto, putting up 34 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in a loss to the equally horrendous Kings.
DeMarcus Cousins had no problem getting his confidence back in the same game with a 25-point, 13-rebound performance of his own.
Ty Lawson scored 32 points on 12-of-16 shooting in Denver’s loss to the Hawks, while also dishing out seven assists and grabbing five steals.
But those are simply honorable mentions before presenting our true Three Stars of the Night.
Third Star: Al Jefferson — 31 points on 13-of-20 shooting, 15 rebounds, in 35 minutes
The points and rebounds are impressive, but even more so in a low-possession contest like the one Utah was able to win by a final of 87-81. Jefferson was dominant all night long, and was unfortunately forced to leave with back spasms with about a minute and a half to play in the game. But not before ensuring his team would leave with the victory.
Second Star: J.R. Smith — Game-winning three at the buzzer to beat the Bobcats
Smith didn’t have that amazing of an evening, finishing 6-of-16 from the field, and a dismal 1-of-9 from three-point distance. But that one was a monster, and as cold-blooded a shot that we’ve seen this season. Smith lined up his man in isolation, dribbled left, stepped back for the fadeaway jumper that was perfectly defended, yet calmly swished it through the net nonetheless.
Smith is a shooter above all else, so the 0-for-8 three-point shooting on the night to that point had zero effect on his confidence for the game’s final shot. Shoot ’til you’re hot, shoot ’til you’re cold, my man.
First Star: Kobe Bryant — 29 points on 10-of-17 shooting, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 30,000 point milestone achieved
Bryant did a little bit of everything to help his up-and-down Lakers get a much-needed road win over the dreadful Hornets. But considering the talent disparity between the two teams and the final 103-87 result, the performance wasn’t all that amazing.
While Bryant was more efficient and effective than normal, he earns the top spot tonight based on his becoming just the fifth player in NBA history to score more than 30,000 career points.