Three Stars of the night: Getting your team wins against elite

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There were so many people who could have made three stars of the night tonight we could have done 10 stars of the night. But, for the sake of my sanity (such as it is) we are keeping it at three. So how do you separate the top three? It’s not just numbers, but who also put up the numbers against the best.

Honorable mention goes to Carlos Boozer (31 points and 11 boards against Orlando), Paul George (29 points, 14 rebounds), Stephen Curry (31 points, 8 assists), James Harden (31 points, 7 assists) and DeMarcus Cousins to had 18 points, 16 rebounds and 6 assists against the Cavaliers.

Third Star, Jrue Holiday (16 points, 10 rebounds 10 assists)

He lived up to Steve Nash’s proclamation and put up a triple-double on the second night of a back-to-back. He looked every bit the All-Star, and when you put up a triple-double (the second of his career( we’ll put you in three stars even if it was in a losing effort against the Suns. He has taken over the 76ers offense this season — the one that was supposed to flow through Andrew Bynum — that is something. This is Holiday’s second career triple double.

Second Star: Joe Johnson (33 points, 5 assists)

P.J. Carlesimo has his first signature win as Nets coach, beating the Thunder in OKC, and he can thank Joe Johnson for much of that. Johnson had 12 first quarter and 20 first half points and was at the heart of the reason the Nets led 55-32 at one point.

Then when the Thunder made their run — and you knew they would — Johnson scored 8 straight in the fourth (including a shot to break a tie) and finished with 10 in the final frame. Johnson gets flack for his contract (really the Hawks should, they offered it) but the guy can score the rock and when he’s on — like Wednesday with 33 points on 19 shots — not even a good team can slow him.

First Star: David Lee (24 points, 13 rebounds, 7assists)

Lee was at the heart of the Warriors picking up a statement against the Clippers. Yes, he put up some quality numbers and looked great running the Golden State offense out of the high post, but he is on top of this list because he played a complete game — Lee was assigned Blake Griffin on defense and had a strong night against the dunking machine (Griffin finished with just 10 points). The Warriors raced out to the early lead and it was Lee’s efforts on both ends of the floor that helped Golden State maintain that distance from the Clips and cruise into the win. He earned this.

Manu Ginobili leads Spurs over Warriors

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Although the San Antonio Spurs were outmatched against the Golden State Warriors, Manu Ginobili was an integral part of the Spurs staving off elimination against the reigning champs on Sunday. San Antonio beat the Warriors, 103-90, to put the series at 3-1.

The 40-year-old wingman scored 10 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter in San Antonio as Ettore Messina logged a playoff win at the helm of the team. Gregg Popovich, who sadly lost his wife this past week, did not coach.

Ginobili was 5-of-10 off the bench, adding five assists and three rebounds in the win. LaMarcus Aldridge led all Spurs scorers with 22, notching a double-double with 10 rebounds.

Meanwhile, the only Warriors player to score more than 12 points was Kevin Durant, who rose above all scorers with 34 points to go with 13 rebounds. Klay Thompson shot an embarrassing 25 percent from the field, scoring just 12 points.

Ginobili put the dagger on the Warriors with 90 seconds to go, hitting a spinning flip shot over Draymond Green to give San Antonio a 10-point lead.

The series heads back to Oakland for Game 5 with the Spurs trailing, 3-1.

Kevin Durant on Giannis Antetokounmpo: ‘I would tell him to play for himself’

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Kevin Durant was once the big star in a little city. The former Oklahoma City Thunder star now plays for the Golden State Warriors, and has a championship ring to his name after making a switch in 2016.

So Durant has at least some experience similar to that of Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak is currently leading the charge for the Bucks against the Boston Celtics in the first round, and he’s seen as the future in Milwaukee. Antetokounmpo signed a 4-year, $100 million contract in the summer of 2016, so presumably he’ll be in Wisconsin for some time.

Meanwhile, Durant had some advice for Antetokounmpo, should he ask for it. In a feature on ESPN, Durant was quoted as saying he felt Antetokounmpo should be sure to have fun, and to play for himself.

Via ESPN:

What I would say to him, I would tell him to play for himself,” Durant said. “Because he’s the one out there putting in the work, he’s the one out there getting up in the morning staying committed to the game. Obviously [the comments about staying put] sounds good to the fans in Milwaukee and to the ownership, because he cares so much about wanting to please them and play well for them, and I get it. But his career is about him; it’s about whatever he wants to do and however he feels is right for him. And what type of basketball does he want to play? He’s not going to stay in Milwaukee if he’s not having fun playing the game.

That’s some pretty good advice, although factors surrounding Antetokounmpo will likely weigh the same as they did on Durant in OKC. The Bucks presumably need a new coach once their season ends. They’re currently helmed by interim coach Joe Prunty, who took over when Jason Kidd was fired earlier this year.

The Bucks also need to fill out their roster and find a way to stay healthy. The Thunder famously had roster issues (read: the James Harden trade) and eventually the lack of playoff success drove Durant to switch teams.

Milwaukee doesn’t seem close to that kind of juncture, although eventually things will flip for the young Bucks and fans and management will expect some kind of production in the postseason.

Giannis Antetokounmpo beats Celtics with late-game tip-in; series tied 2-2

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It was an exciting finish in Milwaukee on Sunday, where the Bucks took home a win on their home court to level the series against the Boston Celtics, 2-2.

The game came down to the wire, with 2016-17 NBA Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon giving the Bucks the lead after a corner 3-pointer with just 33.5 seconds left. The Celtics responded with a sideline out of bounds play that resulted in Al Horford tying the game with free throws.

On their final possession, the Bucks again went to Brogdon, who missed on a layup driving to the left side of the floor. Luckily, Giannis Antetokounmpo was there to follow with the tip-in with just five seconds left.

Via ESPN:

Boston was unable to convert on a final play, and Milwaukee grabbed the win, 104-102.

Game 5 will be in Boston on Tuesday.

Report: Ime Udoka, Ettore Messina, David Fizdale to interview for Hornets job

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The Charlotte Hornets have a new GM in Mitch Kupchak. Upon taking the helm, Kupchak made short work of firing head coach Steve Clifford.

Now, the Hornets need a new coach and they have quite a few names to choose from.

According to a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Hornets will be interviewing current San Antonio Spurs assistants Ime Udoka and Ettore Messina along with former Memphis Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale.

Via Twitter:

All three have extensive coaching experience under their belts. Udoka played in the NBA for seven seasons and has been an assistant coach in San Antonio since 2012.

Messina is a four-time Euroleague champion as a coach, and a two-time winner of the Euroleague Coach of the Year award. He’s coached abroad and in the U.S. since 1989, and he’s been with the Spurs since 2014.

Fizdale coached the Grizzlies for two seasons. Before that he was a longtime assistant coach with the Miami Heat under Erik Spoelstra.

Hornets star Kemba Walker said that who the team chose as GM would influence his decision to re-sign after 2018-19. Walker loved Clifford, so who Charlotte picks as coach could carry significant weight with Walker as well.