Three Stars of the Night: Larry Sanders, DeMarcus Cousins focus on the game instead of the officials

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There are some very good players in the league who let their emotions get the best of them more often than not, and as a result, they have a bad reputation where the officials are concerned.

But sometimes, these guys simply play their games to perfection, and dominate in the process. That’s what we saw tonight from two of our Three Stars.

Paul George (24 points, eight rebounds, six assists, three steals in win at Dallas)

The Mavericks have crawled back into the Western Conference playoff picture after struggling with injuries to key players throughout the majority of the season. Dallas had been playing much better as of late, yet that mattered little to a Pacers team that has been, for the most part, solid all season long.

George’s all-around effort was key in this one offensively, while the Pacers as a team shut down the Mavericks almost completely, holding them to just 38.6 percent shooting and killing them on the glass by a 21-rebound margin.

DeMarcus Cousins (34 points on 16 shots, 14 rebounds in 30 minutes of action)

Cousins had it all going in this one, and any time he focuses on the matter at hand instead of the way the officials (or broadcasters) are calling the game, he has a chance to turn in a special performance.

His effort in this one might have been good enough to earn him top honors of the night, had the Suns actually been interested in fielding a team that featured their best players.

Larry Sanders (Career-high 21 points on 11 shots, 13 rebounds, two blocked shots)

Everyone who follows the NBA closely loves Larry Sanders’ game. He’s athletic, defends, and plays with energy on a nightly basis that makes him fun to watch.

His recent tear of technical fouls and ejections diminished that more than a little bit, but Sanders seems to be back on track, focusing on his game above all else. The Bucks used a balanced attack to dispatch the Lakers on thursday, and when you manage to lead your team in scoring while playing with both Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, you know it was a special night.

Draymond Green addresses argument with Kevin Durant: ‘I’m not going to change who I am’

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Warriors forward Draymond Green knows the perceived significance of his argument with teammate Kevin Durant.

“I’ve read a lot about how, is this the end of the run? Or is it over? Or did I ruin it? Or did I force Kevin to leave?” Green said.

But don’t expect Green to bend amid those high stakes.

“I’m not going to change who I am,” Green said.

Anthony Slater of The Athletic:

Green is correct: His emotional, stubborn, feisty style has led to more good than bad both for himself and Golden State. Reigning that in could have adverse effects.

But there’s still room for personal growth. Green can handle some situations, including this one, better without losing his edge. Every level of the organization agreed.

Blake Griffin calls out Raptors president Masai Ujiri while praising Dwane Casey

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Dwane Casey reportedly holds a grudge toward Raptors president Masai Ujiri for firing him.

Casey got revenge last night, coaching the Pistons to a win at Toronto. Casey called two quality plays in the final seconds, the latter producing Reggie Bullock‘s game-winner.

Keith Langlois of Pistons.com:

A Toronto reporter asked Blake Griffin if it gives Pistons players a degree of confidence in their coach when he gives them those tools to win games.

“We know that. This isn’t like we just discovered this for the first time today,” he said. “We’ve put in plays like that all the time in practice. He demands execution and we executed. Maybe to Toronto fans – or certainly their GM, maybe – it was a surprise. But not to us.”

The win had to be gratifying for Casey. Having his star player take up his greater cause must even more satisfying.

Jazz have one of worst offensive showings ever, score 68 in 50-point loss to Mavericks

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NBA scoring is exploding. Defenses are getting less leeway for physicality. Offenses are more efficient than ever. Pace is at its highest mark in decades.

Except for the Jazz last night.

Utah scored just 68 points in a 50-point loss to the Mavericks. And even that undersells the Jazz’s offensive woes. They played reasonably fast, getting 101 possessions. Their offensive rating – 67.3 – shows just how inept they truly were.

In all, Utah shot 42% on 2-pointers, 17% on 3-pointers and 63% on free throws and committed 22 turnovers.

The Jazz set several milestones for offensive futility:

  • Fewest points in a game (68) in nearly two years (68 by Hawks vs. Jazz on Nov. 25, 2016)
  • Lowest Basketball-Reference estimated offensive rating in a game (68.8) in more than three years (68.2 by Grizzlies vs. Warriors on Nov. 2, 2015)
  • Fewest points in a second half (22) in nearly five years (19 by Rockets vs. Thunder on Jan. 16, 2014)

Comparing across eras can be difficult, but here’s one measure: The Jazz scored 68 points in a season teams are averaging 110.4 points per game.

That output relative to average – -42.4 – is one of the lowest of all-time:

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Kevin Durant’s brother posts: ‘just follow along before the greatness is done rubbing off on you and people see you for what you really are’

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Kevin Durant and Draymond Green are feuding, the possibility of Durant leaving the Warriors in free agency next summer hanging over everything.

Now comes Durant’s brother, Tony – intentionally or not – throwing gasoline on the fire. Again.

Tony posted and deleted these comments on Instagram, via Bleacher Report:

Read too much into vague social-media content at your own peril.

But, man, that sure looks like Tony advising Green just to enjoy Durant masking Green’s problems until Durant leaves the Warriors and leaves Green exposed.