This was one of those nights when a number of guys could have made the three-stars list — Blake Griffin had 22 points and 10 rebounds; Carlos Boozer had 24 points and 13 rebounds; Ty Lawson with an impressive 26 points; and there were others in consideration. Even Andray Blatche.
But in the end, these three are pretty hard to beat.
Third Star: Kyrie Irving (28 points 11 assists)
It was great just to see him back out on the court, he is just fun to watch. His quickness was far too much for Chris Duhon and Darius Morris to handle, and the Lakers rotations — which have been slow — he made look glacial. Irving got shots at the rim on the drive, he got step back threes, and he hit 11-of-21 plus added seven assists. Without him he Cavaliers offense was ugly, but with him they were good enough to beat the Lakers.
Second Star: Kobe Bryant (42 points 5 rebounds, 2 assists)
Kobe put up a lot of points… which isn’t that good for a Lakers team that needs victories. The Lakers are 1-10 when he scores more than 30. But Kobe really had no choice because the offense was sputtering — and when that happens Kobe is fearless about taking on more of the responsibility himself. The key is that while Kobe was gunning he was efficient — he hit 16-of-28 from the floor — which is part of what kept the Lakers within striking distance (a gap they never closed).
First Star: Carmelo Anthony (45 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists)
In what has been his best season (so far), this was maybe Carmelo Anthony’s best performance. He was a force. Not only did ‘Melo score big, it was when he scored — 15 in the fourth quarter to help the Knicks complete the comeback and get the win (behind Jason Kidd’s three pointer). Anthony did it pretty much every way imaginable — he was draining threes, getting into the lane, and doing almost all of it in the flow of the offense. It’s far, far to early to say who is going to be the league MVP, but Anthony has played his way into the discussion.
Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver
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.
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 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.
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.
“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.