There are only two food items on the menu at the west coast burger chain In and Out — burgers and fries — but there’s something called “Animal Style” where they put…heck, I don’t even know what they do, but it’s messy and it involves mustard-grilled something or other and it’s just all over the place. Kenneth Faried’s “Manimal Style” brings on a whole different set of sensory stimulation, but it’s just as fulfilling. Faried is always diving for loose balls, sprinting up the floor, and crashing into things at a frantic pace. It’s delightfully chaotic, and here at PBT, we just can’t resist a double-double Manimal Style. To the stars!
Third Star: Kyrie Irving – (33 points, 18-point third quarter)
The Atlanta Hawks were hanging around in Cleveland, but Kyrie Irving sent them packing in the third quarter. It’s hard to quantify, but Irving is one of those players who can get hot in a hurry, especially when it comes to his 3-point shooting. Irving’s 18-point third quarter had a few long bombs, including a crushing one to beat the buzzer at the end the quarter. Irving was 5-for-6 from behind the arc on the night, 11-for-15 overall, and scored 33 points in 33 minutes. It’s pretty amazing that Irving can stay so incredibly efficient on such a bad offensive team (without Anderson Varejao). This isn’t a guy just putting up numbers at all costs — he’s shooting almost 46 percent from the field on the year, something not even the great Chris Paul did in his second year on a better team. The sky is the limit here.
Second Star: Kenneth Faried – (19 points, 19 rebounds)
Faried seemed to be involved in every big play down the stretch in the Nuggets nine-point fourth quarter comeback against the Orlando Magic. Faried scored 9 points in the fourth quarter as the beneficiary of a few nice passes at the rim, he chased down a loose ball in a tie game to help the Nuggets retain possession and take the lead on the ensuing play, and he crashed the offensive glass with reckless abandon, as per usual. Faried couldn’t be a more perfect match for Denver — he just wears you down in that high altitude with his relentless pursuit of the basketball off the rim. He’ll need to expand his game more going forward, but for now, it’s hard to complain about the effort he brings every night.
First Star: Brandon Jennings – (35 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists)
It’s not easy to drop 35 on the Bulls defense, but Nate Robinson playing 42 minutes makes that task a little easier, I suppose. That’s not to take anything away from Jennings, who did a lot of his damage in transition with the pull-up 3 and even off the ball spotting up in the corners. With the Bucks in a state of uncertainty after firing Scott Skiles, and with Jennings ready to hit restricted free agency next offseason, it makes you wonder what a talented 23-year-old point guard who shoots 40 percent from the field will demand on the open market. Will Milwaukee want him back at a max deal? At 10 million a year? Some clarity might be provided based on where the Bucks finish this season, and if the Jennings-Ellis backcourt can heat up at the right time in the postseason.