There are some players everyone believes in , and other players whose teammates believe in them. And then there are those players who completely believe in themselves – even when others might not.
Third Star: Kobe Bryant (35 points, 8 rebounds)
Arguably, no player believes in himself more than Kobe, who shot 11-for-27 against the Warriors and extended his lead in games with at least that many shots. His teammates shot an even worse percentage than he did Tuesday, and you could use that stat to defend Kobe’s volume or argue Kobe’s teammates suffered because he stagnated the offense. I suspect Kobe wouldn’t be interested in having that discussion. He – and only he – is capable of leading the Lakers to wins, even if he didn’t do that tonight.
Second Star: LeBron James (24 points, 11 assists, 9 rebounds)
The Magic led Miami most of the second quarter, but the Heat’s 27th straight win never seemed seriously in doubt – and it shouldn’t have. As long as they have LeBron, everyone believes the Heat have a chance to win. Once the NBA’s top player turned it on, Orlando was toast.
First Star: John Wall (47 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds)
Before Wall began his season in January, the Wizards were 1-13 when Nene was also out injured, including suffering the final three losses by 26, 30 and 32 points. It was almost like the Wizards knew they were overmatched. But with Wall, they believe again, and why shouldn’t they believe in someone scoring like this? With Nene out, Wall upped his game in a way the Wizards were either unable or unwilling to do earlier in the season. Only Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant have scored more in a game than Wall this year.
Frank Vogel says Paul George is best two-way player in game
The moniker of the “best two-way player” sounds more like something an agent made up to gain a little leverage contract negotiations. It’s a nebulous concept. It’s an intentional dig at whomever is perceived as a better player, suggesting they don’t play enough defense.
“It’s tough to quantify in words,” Pacers Coach Frank Vogel said. “I mean, he just does so much. He’s capable of going for 40, carrying the offensive load and being the best defensive player on either team. He’s a special player, and the best two-way player in the game. We’re a different team with him out there.”
Paul George’s return to an elite level of play is one of the best stories of this young NBA season — for nine straight games now he has scored at least 25 points, he has pushed the Pacers to a 9-5 record with a top 10 NBA offense and defense. Tuesday night John Wall talked about how George’s improved jumper has made him a far more dangerous, more difficult to guard player. And he’s still a lock-down defender.
But George is not the best two-way player in the game — that’s Stephen Curry. George does not have the offensive impact that Curry brings to the Warriors, plus Curry has developed into a solid NBA defender. Curry gets steals, plays smart, and is a positive on defense, plus he’s the best offensive player in the league right now.
That doesn’t make the return of Paul George any less fun, any less good for the game. It’s great to see George back. Whatever you want to call him.
Kobe Bryant “not really worried” about his shooting after 1-of-14 night
Sometimes a picture can tell the story better than words.
That’s why above you can see all of Kobe Bryant‘s shot attempts against the Warriors Tuesday, a night where he went 1-of-14 from the floor (and “facilitator Kobe” had two assists). If you want another picture, here is Kobe’s shot chart for the game.
“Yeah, they could do it – because they’re good,” Bryant said afterward. “It’s a very young league, and they’ve managed to put together a team of extremely intelligent players and extremely versatile players, and great shooters. And so I see no reason why they couldn’t continue to extend (the record).”
The Warriors are not even halfway there and have shown some flashes of one-game vulnerability of late (a rough game against the Nets, for example). They have an upcoming seven-game road trip with a couple back-to-backs where they likely stumble at least once.
Then again, look at their next dozen opponents: Suns, Kings, Jazz, Hornets, Raptors, Nets, Pacers, Celtics, Bucks, Suns, Bucks, Jazz. Teams such as the Raptors and Pacers are certainly playing well, but there is no team on that list that makes you step back and say “that’s a loss.” Get through that dozen and the Warriors are at 28-0 and the Lakers’ record is within shot. The Warriors are not going to stop doing what they do — if the wearable science tells them Curry needs a night off, he’ll sit — but if they can get close, for a team trying to establish a legacy of greatness this would be a step in that direction.
The 16-0 mark already is.
Nick Young wears Gilbert Arenas’ old shoes during game (PHOTO)
In a disastrous Lakers season, one thing can be counted on (besides Byron Scott saying absurd things about Kobe Bryant): Nick Young will always be able to lighten the mood. He brought some levity to the Lakers’ blowout loss to the Warriors on Tuesday night with a blast from the past: a pair of gold shoes formerly worn by his ex-Wizards teammate Gilbert Arenas.
Nick Young borrowed his game shoes tonight from Gilbert Arenas. Said he rummaged through Gil's closet yesterday. pic.twitter.com/XjoqLdpmro