Some very familiar names on top of the three stars list to NBA fans tonight. Sorry to overlook Chandler Parsons dropping 32 out of the blue, or Carmelo Anthony getting 32 in a losing cause, or David West putting up an impressive 31 against the Bulls defense. But these guys had big games and sparked key wins.
Third Star: Russell Westbrook (29 points, 10 assists, 6 rebounds)
After Serge Ibaka punched Blake Griffin in the nuts (I still don’t see how Ibaka stayed in the game after that) and the Clippers got a seven-point play to take the lead with less than 2 minutes to go. That’s when Westbrook took over. He broke down the Clippers defense for a lay-up. He set up Serge Ibaka for the and-1. He knocked down the baseline jumper. He made sure his team won.
Second Star: LeBron James(29 points, 11 assists, 7 rebounds)
After a pretty quiet first half, LeBron put up a dozen in the fourth quarter to lead the Heat to a hard-fought win. (This on the heels of dropping 16 in the fourth quarter against the Grizzlies last Heat game.) More than just put up points LeBron does it all (5 rebounds 3 assists in fourth quarter). LeBron looked like the MVP on the big stage. In the last month he has made that award his again.
First Star: Kobe Bryant (34 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists)
The Lakers are back to .500 for the first time since just after Christmas and you can thank Kobe for that, as he played another game where he was key down the stretch with 11 in the final frame. That included a great play on the game-winning layup where he blew past Al Horford, got to the lane before Josh Smith could fully rotate, Kobe took the contact and made the play, Kobe has played with a desperate passion the past few weeks as he has led the Lakers back into the playoff hunt. This game was another example of that.
Why did David West choose to come off bench for Warriors? Kevin Durant.
“(The Warriors) reached out once we lost to OKC, maybe that night,” West told reporters at Golden State’s media day. “My agent was like, ‘If you’re interested in continuing to play, Golden State wants you.’ He was obviously talking to a few guys and to the coach during the process. Then, when Kevin Durant reached out, he told me he wanted me to come join, so it was a no-brainer.”
I have zero problem with a veteran player like West taking a pay cut and chasing a ring — we as fans can’t say “today’s players care more about money/friends than winning” then turn around and hammer the guy who puts winning first. That sounds like a Trump debate tactic.
Plus, West is going to get some run-up front with Golden State. He’s still solid — he is a physical defender, sets a good screen, and if you don’t stick with him on the pop West will destroy you from the midrange. He’s not his vintage self, but he’s still a guy a championship-caliber team can lean on.
And the Warriors will.
Anthony Carter still getting paid by agent 13 years after legendary mistake
Former NBA player Anthony Carter is back with the Heat as a D-League assistant coach. Miami is the team he is most famous for playing for during a 13-year NBA career — but not for anything he did on the court.
Back in the summer of 2003, Carter had a $4.1 million player option for the coming season and he planned to exercise it and stay in Miami. Except his agent forgot to tell the Heat. Carter ended up a free agent and out a lot of money, and the Heat used that cap space to sign Lamar Odom, then trade him in the Shaquille O’Neal deal with the Lakers.
As for the famous screw-up by his agent Bill Duffy back in 2003 that cost him more than $3 million, Carter said it’s all ancient history. Duffy agreed to make it up to him and has kept his word, paying him in installments over the years.
“In the end it was a blessing,” Carter said. “I’m still getting paid from it. Everything happens for a reason and my agent was man enough to stand up and just pay me over a period of time. To this day I’m still getting paid. I’m still getting paid until 2020.”
That’s the kind of professionalism Duffy is known for, he’s one of the best-respected agents around the league.
If you make a mistake, own it. That’s a lesson a lot of NBA front office people should take.
He couldn’t stay away: Tim Duncan shows up to Spurs practice
LeBron James may not like it, but this is the right move by Lue, both in terms of trying to repeat and for future years. The Cavaliers are going to need a healthy LeBron, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love if they are going to pass the test the Warriors present again.
The league schedulers have done an impressive job of reducing the four-games-in-five-nights on the road and back-to-backs. However, as long as the NBA plays 82 games, fatigue and rest will be issues — and we know the owners and players are not giving up the revenue to go to a more reasonable 60-game schedule. Which means what you get now is the new reality.