Only three games — and not the high-quality games we are used to on the Thursday night showcase stage due to the NCAA Tournament — so we’ve got one guy from each team that notched a victory.
Third Star: Tyreke Evans (21 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds)
The Kings won this game with a 13-2 run in the fourth quarter that gave them a lead the Timberwolves could not overcome. And Tyreke Evans was the key to the Sacramento fourth quarter with 11 of his 21 points, including seven in a row at one point. On the night Evans got those points on 8-of-11 shooting on the night, which was huge. By the way, the Kings are 6-5 in their last 11 and playing much better.
Second Star: LaMarcus Aldridge (28 points, 8 rebounds)
LaMarcus Aldridge had a huge first half in getting the Blazers a quality win on the road. He had 10 first quarter points, then when he returned in the second quarter the Blazers went on an 18-8 run that was when the Blazers ran away and hid in this game. But really the key was how he played — he wasn’t stationary but moving against the Bulls defense. He flashed, cut and when he got the rock he shot quickly. It worked for Aldridge and it worked for the Blazers.
First Star: Corey Brewer (29 points, 5 steals)
The Nuggets win streak is 14 games and they can thank Corey Brewer. He won that game for them, finishing it off in a way fitting of the drama of the first day of the NCAA Tournament.
It wasn’t just that he scored the last six points — including drawing (and selling) a foul on a three with 2.1 seconds left, then sinking all three free throws to lock up the win. But it was more than that — the Nuggets were flat early, he came in and scored 13 points in the second quarter to stabilize things. Normally Brewer comes in to stabilize the defense, but he can have hot offensive nights and the Nuggets have won 14 in a row because they know to ride the hot hand. Thursday that was Brewer.