Best game of the night was in Dallas, and we’ve got two from that game. Plus the hot hand that did in Boston.
Third Star: Chris Paul (33 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists)
For much of the game Dallas took the strategy of making Chris Paul the scorer for the Clippers. This is the same strategy teams used against Steve Nash at his peak — yes, he’s going to score a lot of points but his team is more dangerous when he is dishing and getting everyone involved. So Paul put up big numbers, eventually all the way to 33 points on 12-of-15 shooting. At the end Dallas went to double-teaming him 30 feet from the basket, and he still scored the Clippers final 10 points in regulation.
Second Star: J.R. Smith (32 points, 7 rebounds)
When that ridiculous 27-footer to end the third quarter fell, you knew it was Smith’s (and the Knicks) kind of night. Smith was aggressive and attacking, getting shots in the paint and knocking down jumpers. The Knicks cannot survive on ‘Melo alone, they need someone else to step up to have a chance in big games. Tonight it was Smith.
First Star: Dirk Nowitzki (33 points, 9 rebounds)
The biggest key was the eight points in overtime — Nowitzki stepped up when Dallas needed him Tuesday. Dirk is back to being his fluid, smart and unguardable self. Dallas needs to get him the ball in the crunch — not go with Vince Carter or O.J. Mayo isolations (although that worked out pretty well for Dallas this time around. The Mavs they did a better job of that Tuesday. Especially in overtime. And the result is a Mavericks team right in the middle of a playoff hunt.