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.
Kings’ Rudy Gay suffers apparent torn left Achilles tendon, would be done for season
This not only changes the Kings dreams of making the playoffs in the West, it also alters the trade deadline and free agency.
Rudy Gay, the Kings wing and second-leading scorer, has been diagnosed with a torn left Achilles tendon, according to the team. During the third quarter of Wednesday night’s game against the Pacers, Gay drove out of the right corner and, untouched, fell to the floor hard. He had to be helped off the court by teammates.
Team doctors made the initial torn Achilles diagnosis, which will need to be confirmed by an MRI scheduled for Thursday. He would be out not only for this season but likely the start of the next one as well.
Without Gay, a lot more will fall on Matt Barnes and, once he returns from his calf injury in a couple of weeks, Omri Casspi. Those two are a drop off from what Gay brought to the Kings, and with that team’s playoff chances have taken a hit (they are 1.5 games out of the eight seed after Wednesday’s loss to the Pacers). Don’t be surprised if the Kings look to add a scorer at the trade deadline.
Gay was not happy in Sacramento and said he planned to opt out of the $14.3 million final year of his contract to be a free agent next summer, which made him someone potentially traded before the deadline (although the Kings being in the playoff hunt impacted that). Gay averaged 18.7 points and 6.4 rebounds a game for the Kings, and while his game was a little old school — more isolation and midrange shots than teams prefer — he put up points. Enough that he was drawing trade interest heading toward the deadline from Oklahoma City and other squads.
That is all off the table now. At age 30, if Gay does still opt out of his contract for next season this will impact what he would make on the free market.
Zaza Pachulia lays out Russell Westbrook, stands over him (video)
76ers rookie forward Ben Simmons could make his much-anticipated NBA debut shortly after the All-Star break, league sources told ESPN.
Barring a setback in his recovery, sources say the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft has a chance to take the hardwood near March. There still remains the possibility Simmons sits the entire season, sources said, but his situation will continue to be thoroughly evaluated throughout his comeback quest.
76ers coach Brett Brown said there’s “no chance” Simmons plays in Philadelphia’s nationally televised game against the Rockets next week. Other than that, there isn’t much clarity.
It mostly sounds as if Simmons is still too far from returning to say something definitive.
Roy Hibbert passes ball into hoop, reacts with perfect facial expression (video)