Three Stars of the Night: Unlikely heroes edition

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Most nights, we have the game’s biggest stars lighting up the scoreboard while leading their teams to victory. That wasn’t the case on Monday, as the leading scorers on the winning side of things were largely unheralded players.

Third Star: Kosta Koufos (Game-high and career-high 22 points, 10 rebounds in win over Suns)

Koufos isn’t known for his offense, but after a 13-point first quarter in Phoenix, it seemed more than likely he’d have a shot at a career night — especially against a Suns team playing Hamed Haddadi as its only true center.

Nuggets coach George Karl was quick to say “no” when (jokingly) asked if he’d consider featuring Koufos offensively in the future, and Koufos himself couldn’t have been more joyless in the locker room afterward about his scoring output, giving answers to reporters about team and winning above all else while refusing to crack a single smile.

Second Star: Spencer Hawes (24 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists in win over Nets)

Yeah, I don’t know how this happens, either. But apparently Hawes took it to the Nets all night long, and lead a Sixers team that had lost five straight — most recently to the dismal Orlando Magic — to a win over the four-seed in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

First Star: Tiago Splitter (Team-high 21 points on 9-11 shooting, 10 rebounds in win over Thunder)

In a battle of the top two teams in the Western Conference, the Spurs made sure it wasn’t much of a contest at all. A bad Russell Westbrook game plus a typically stellar balanced attack from San Antonio had the Spurs up by as many as 18 after trailing by 13 early, and Splitter’s presence inside, along with his team’s overall defensive effort on OKC, were huge reasons why.