On a busy night in the NBA we need to give out a few honorable mentions for top stars. One goes to Andre Drummond, who had 29 points and 11 rebounds on the night. He could have been in the Rookie of the Year conversation if Lawrence Frank hadn’t sat on his minutes in the first part of the season, and if Drummond had not missed a month with a bad back. Still, in a few years he is going to be a monster.
Another goes to Deron Williams had 29 points and 12 assists, too, but just misses the cut. Nikola Vucevic had 30 points, 20 rebounds, but he is on the outside looking in. As for the three stars…
Third Star: Tobias Harris (30 points, 19 rebounds, 5 assists)
Those 30 points include the three pointers Harris hit to send the game into overtime (he was fouled on the play and had a chance to win it in regulation but missed the free throw).
We were trying to tell you about Tobias Harris way back during Summer League — the guy can flat out play. The problem was that Scott Skiles then Jim Boylan were not patient with him in Milwaukee, but he got sent to Orlando where they are nothing but patient. Since the trade he has averaged 16.3 points and 8.4 rebounds again. So against his old team he wanted to show them what they were missing and put up those numbers on 13-of-20 shooting.
Second Star: Damian Lillard (38 points, 9 assists)
What the soon to be Rookie of the Year has in spades is poise. Fearlessness and poise. He gave the Lakers all they could handle on Wednesday. He came out on fire with 17 points in the first quarter and was hitting shots from across the border in Washington. By the fourth quarter the Lakers started to really pressure Lillard with some real desperation, and Lillard shot 2-of-7 in the fourth. Still, what he shows as a rookie is incredible.
First Star: Kobe Bryant (47 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 blocks)
Kobe Bean is willing the Lakers into the playoffs — he played all 48 minutes and when the Lakers were struggling early he had 28 points in the first half and kept them in it. He got help — the Lakers ran the offense through Pau Gasol late and Dwight Howard was defending plays and finishing them on offense — but the Lakers are not where they are (a likely playoff team) without his play. Kobe played a complete game, at both ends, and his aggression never waned — and he would not let his teammates’ aggression wane, either. He won them this game and he is going to drag them into the postseason.