There are great all-around performances, and then there are singular plays which rise above all else to define a day of NBA basketball. DeAndre Jordan’s dunk over Brandon Knight falls into the latter category, and (spoiler alert) it earns him our top spot in the nightly rankings.
Third Star: Dwight Howard (16 points, 21 rebounds, 4 blocked shots in win over Bulls)
Dwight is getting healthier with each passing game, and as a result, he’s looking more and more like the defensive monster he’s proved to be in previous seasons. Howard was active defensively and dominated the glass, while helping the Lakers beat the Bulls and move into the playoff picture officially for the first time all season.
Second Star: Mario Chalmers (26 points on 9 shots, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals)
The Heat won their 18th straight game on Sunday against the Pacers, and anytime the leading scorer in Miami isn’t named LeBron James or Dwyane Wade, you know they turned in a special performance. 26 points on nine shots is about as efficient as it gets, and the fact that guys other than James, Wade, and Chris Bosh can step up like this for the Heat is what makes them heavy favorites to repeat as champions.
First Star: DeAndre Jordan (Soul-crushing dunk that broke the Internet)
DeAndre Jordan finished with 13 points on 5-5 shooting, to go along with seven rebounds and two blocked shots in the Clippers’ 32-point win over the Pistons. But when this happens, not much else matters.
Jusuf Nurkic trolls Nuggets, tells former team to enjoy their summer (VIDEO)
On Tuesday night, Nurkic got to take on his old team with huge playoff implications at stake. Portland beat the Nuggets, 122-113, moving a game ahead of their rivals in the race for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference and giving them the best tiebreaker between the two.
Nurkic was impressive, blasting his old squad with 33 points on 12-of-15 shooting, adding 16 rebounds, three blocks, and two assists.
Nurkic was interviewed in the arena after the game, and he was obviously happy he helped his team while also sticking it to Denver. Speaking with Portland reporter Brooke Olzendam, Nurkic took one last shot at the Nuggets, telling them to enjoy their summer.
Miami Heat forward James Johnson is one of the NBA’s best in-game dunkers. On Tuesday night against the Detroit Pistons, he yammed down a huge one-handed slam that embarrassed Marcus Morris and drew gasps from the crowd at the Palace.
The play came midway through the fourth quarter with Johnson at the top of the key. After a quick pass over to him, Johnson gave a quick hesitation before driving to his left and past his defender.
With the quick step, Johnson’s only remaining opponent at the basket was Morris, who was unfortunate enough to find himself between the high-flying Heat and the rim.
The Miami Heat took until the final moments on Tuesday night to beat the Detroit Pistons, but it was worth it. With just a handful of games left to play, the Heat need to stave off the Chicago Bulls for the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Thanks to a tip at the buzzer by Hassan Whiteside, they’re one step closer to achieving that goal.
The play came with just seconds left in the fourth quarter. James Johnson missed a shot with six seconds to go, and the Heat grabbed the rebound. Goran Dragic then tried his hand, but he couldn’t get it to go, either.
That’s when Whiteside came back with a tip at the buzzer that ended the game.
Former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant was a pretty consistent player in the NBA. Save for his final injury-laden seasons and the lockout year of 2011-12, Bryant played in no fewer than 65 regular season games in a single season.
Coaches also had no reason or want to ask Bryant — a notorious worker — to sit out in order to rest. That wasn’t really on the menu, and Bryant knew that.
Speaking to ESPN’s First Take, Bryant said no coach really asked him to ever take a rest, “I’ve never been approached by a coach and asked to rest.”
Bryant remarked that he took queues from Michael Jordan during tough stretches of the season — back-to-backs or four games in five night scenarios — where he could switch his game up, floating from perimeter to post, in order to save energy during those matchups.
Bryant also said during the same interview that he understands the complexity of the modern game, and that players like LeBron James deserve to take a rest if they’ve earned it.
“LeBron has done so much for the game. He’s earned the opportunity to take a rest,” said Bryant.