This was one of those nights when a number of guys could have made the three-stars list — Blake Griffin had 22 points and 10 rebounds; Carlos Boozer had 24 points and 13 rebounds; Ty Lawson with an impressive 26 points; and there were others in consideration. Even Andray Blatche.
But in the end, these three are pretty hard to beat.
Third Star: Kyrie Irving (28 points 11 assists)
It was great just to see him back out on the court, he is just fun to watch. His quickness was far too much for Chris Duhon and Darius Morris to handle, and the Lakers rotations — which have been slow — he made look glacial. Irving got shots at the rim on the drive, he got step back threes, and he hit 11-of-21 plus added seven assists. Without him he Cavaliers offense was ugly, but with him they were good enough to beat the Lakers.
Second Star: Kobe Bryant (42 points 5 rebounds, 2 assists)
Kobe put up a lot of points… which isn’t that good for a Lakers team that needs victories. The Lakers are 1-10 when he scores more than 30. But Kobe really had no choice because the offense was sputtering — and when that happens Kobe is fearless about taking on more of the responsibility himself. The key is that while Kobe was gunning he was efficient — he hit 16-of-28 from the floor — which is part of what kept the Lakers within striking distance (a gap they never closed).
First Star: Carmelo Anthony (45 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists)
In what has been his best season (so far), this was maybe Carmelo Anthony’s best performance. He was a force. Not only did ‘Melo score big, it was when he scored — 15 in the fourth quarter to help the Knicks complete the comeback and get the win (behind Jason Kidd’s three pointer). Anthony did it pretty much every way imaginable — he was draining threes, getting into the lane, and doing almost all of it in the flow of the offense. It’s far, far to early to say who is going to be the league MVP, but Anthony has played his way into the discussion.
Thursday And-1 links: Jay-Z says he had to fight to get Nets herringbone court
Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points more than I love a good barbecued brisket (well, maybe not that much, but close)…
• I like the Nets new herringbone pattered court. It’s a Jay-Z idea, but he says the league hated it and tried to block it, saying it would mess up television screens. And it might your grandpa’s television with the tubes, but I think you are safe with an HD flat screen.
• Mike Brown wishes Kobe Bryant and all the Lakers well. He wants to see them win. Brown says he is comfortable and happy. If I was going to get $10 million to sit around my house I’d be comfortable and happy. too.
• Metta World Peace insists the Lakers can still go 72-10 this season and tie the Bulls all-time record. Even though they would need to go 63-0 the rest of the way. I think he just triggered an automatic league drug test.
• Fans around Philadelphia are taking pictures of Andrew Bynum out and about in town, doing pretty much everything but playing basketball. There still is no timeline for that. But he is playing pop-a-shot.
• Ken Berger at CBS says that there seem to be signs of progress between Royce White and the Houston Rockets. Slow progress, but progress. I hope so. (Berger also has some “what if the Lakers want to trade Pau Gasol scenarios.)
We’re not in the habit of bringing you highlights of missed dunks or shots that don’t count, but for this clip of Kevin Durant from the Thunder’s win over the Nets on Tuesday, an exception needs to be made.
This one is great for a lot of reasons. Durant seemed to have been eyeing this one from the moment he crossed half court, and possibly sped up the possession to force a two-for-one opportunity with around 35 seconds or so remaining in the half.
The offense was spread, and the paint was wide open. All Durant had to do was blow by his man, and then, it was time for takeoff.
Andray Blatche came over late to try to take the charge, but all that did was make Durant leap higher, to the point where his shoulder was flush with the rim. He was forced to take off maybe a little sooner than he wanted to, which caused him to literally try to throw the ball down through the hoop instead of being able to grab the rim for the more official slam.
“I wanted to finish it so bad. I know Dray from him playing in D.C. and that’s where I’m from, so I’ll talk a little trash to him after that one,” Durant said, via the Associated Press.
Durant said it probably would have been his best dunk in the NBA had it gone down, laughing that he didn’t jump higher because he “didn’t have no more left in the tank.”
After watching this clip more than once, jumping any higher simply doesn’t seem humanly possible.