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.
LeBron James says he has scratched cornea, could sit Saturday vs. Wizards
LeBron James said he suffered a scratched cornea in his right eye in Friday’s 112-105 win over Charlotte after being examined by a Hornets team physician.
James, who scored 32 points in 40 minutes, could not keep his right eye open during his postgame interview session and said his vision was blurry… Summing it all up, James said “if coach decides to give me a game off (Saturday), it’s not because I’m resting. It’s because I’m banged up.”
He was treated by the Hornets’ team doctor who administered eye drops, but the Cavaliers will make the call closer to game time depending on how LeBron is feeling.
The Cavaliers are 0-6 without LeBron this season. They also have just a one-game lead over the Celtics for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. (Boston beat Phoenix on Friday, despite Devin Bookerdropping 70, and they have a key game with the Heat on Sunday.) That said, the Cavaliers are two games up in the loss column on the Celtics, which is a decent lead, but the Cavs need to start winning consistently.
And beating a hot Washington team will not be easy even with LeBron.
NBA reacts to Suns’ Devin Booker dropping 70 on Celtics
The 20-year-old Suns’ guard — who never scored more than 19 points in a game at Kentucky in college — dropped 70 on the Boston Celtics in a losing effort. He becomes only the sixth player in NBA history to score at least 70 in a game. At the end the Suns were fouling and calling time outs to stop the clock and get the ball back to Booker, but as Phoenix coach Earl Watson said to those who complained, “You got a problem with that? Do something. Simple as that.”
Ball is expected to go second or third in the upcoming NBA draft. Speaking with people around the league Washington’s Markelle Fultz is a clear No. 1, but after that if the Lakers — the team with the second-worst record in the league — have the No. 2 pick they are expected to snap up Ball. Depending on how the lottery shakes out the top of the draft, Ball could fall a little — there are teams that like Josh Jackson — but not much.
Ball is a 6’6″ point guard who averaged 14.7 points, 7.6 assists and 6.1 rebounds a game for UCLA last season. He has fantastic passing vision, impressive shooting range (although he can take some questionable shots), and a great sense of floor spacing and how to run an offense, particularly in transition. However, his weaknesses were exposed in his final game some as De’Aaron Fox of Kentucky completely outplayed Ball. Defensive pressure took Ball (and the Bruins) out of rhythm, forced them to play in the half court (where Ball is not as strong), and it’s one of the things Ball is going to have to adapt to at the next level where everyone is more athletic. Also, he’s going to need to get more consistent defensively.
The potential for Ball to be special is there, which is why he will go high in the draft.
And no, the rantings of his father will not change that. Teams see the father as a distraction that can be handled, they aren’t going to let him get in the way of drafting talent.
Watch highlights of Shaquille O’Neal’s statue unveiling outside Staples Center
Kobe Bryant said “Thank you. I learned so much from you as a player.”
Jerry West said he loved him like a son.
Jeanie Buss said “No one celebrates a championship like you, but please no more asking Mark Madsen to dance.”
The Lakers unveiled a new statue for Shaquille O’Neal Friday night, one flying high over a Staples Center entrance, and the stars were on hand for the event. Phil Jackson was there making Snoop Dogg jokes. Shaq and Kobe were sharing laughs. It was a big night for a big man with a big personality. And a big heart.