With teams busting it for playoff position tonight we feature three guys that helped their team big time Sunday night and got them in better playoff position.
Third Star: James Harden (29 points, 9 assists)
Houston controls its own destiny — win out and they get the six seed (and don’t have to face the Spurs or Thunder in the first round). And James Harden helped make that happen on Sunday, carving up Sacramento, getting all those points on just 16 shots. He had 23 points on 9-for-11 shooting in the first half. If you want a stat for how good a season Harden has had, the last Rockets player to have as many 20-point games in a season as him (64) was Hakeem Olajuwon in 1994-95.
Second Star: Andre Iguodala(28 points, 9 assists, 7 rebounds)
Since Danilo Gallinari went down Andre Iguodala has seemed to step up. He had big numbers against the hapless Trail Blazers, but in his last five games Iggy is averaging 16.8 points a game on 47.8 percent shooting (42.9 percent from three) with 9.4 assists and 10.2 rebounds. He single-handedly seemed to shut down every little run the Blazers made and this would have been a blowout if not from another amazing performance from Damian Lillard. With the win, the Nuggets are on the verge of locking up the three seed.
First Star: Dwight Howard(26 points, 17 rebounds)
Dwight Howard wanted to be the man in this one — he aggressively established his position on the low block early and bullied his way to the rim for 10 first quarter points. As he has been he was a defensive anchor for the Lakers and he got some help from the energy of the guys on the perimeter for a change. (The Spurs also just missed some shots, but the Lakers will take it.)
The bottom line is the Lakers out-hustled the Spurs on the night and Howard led that charge. And with that win the Lakers magic number to make the playoffs is one — they can clinch it themselves with a win over Houston Wednesday.
Larry Nance has buzzer-beating tip-in to beat Pacers (VIDEO)
Where’s the Cavaliers down by one point with nine seconds to go in the fourth quarter, Rodney Hood took it upon himself to take what he thought would be the last shot for Cleveland. Hood danced around the defense before finally taking a jumper from the free-throw line, which bounced softly off the rim.
Nance, battling down low for the rebound, worked his way free for a tip-in as time expired.
What counts as collusion these days in the NBA? What counts as tampering? It’s hard to say, but the league office takes a look at each and every comment like the one LeBron James made on Tuesday about New Orleans Pelicans big man Anthony Davis.
Speaking to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, James said it would be incredible if Davis were somehow able to make his way onto the Los Angeles Lakers. This slots into the rumor around the NBA that LA is stockpiling its young core to be able to trade for a player like Davis.
“That would be amazing,” James told ESPN on Tuesday before the Lakers’ 115-110 loss to the Brooklyn Nets. “That would be amazing, like, duh. That would be incredible.”
There’s nothing much here that LeBron said that isn’t factual. Davis is a 5-time All-Star and one of the best players in the NBA, a unicorn not unlike LeBron himself.
The NBA is certainly hoping that the Lakers can get their act together and put a powerhouse around James at Staples Center. How he does it is up for debate, although making comments about current players probably isn’t the best idea. James has been able to keep his mouth shut for the most part, but perhaps talk of Davis is just too tempting.
NBA refs admit they missed James Harden’s shuffle-step travel
But was Harden called for a travel by officials? No. At least, not at first.
Video of Harden’s ridiculous shuffle was circulated on social media after the Houston Rockets beat the Utah Jazz, 102-97. Harden was asked about the move by media, and said that he wasn’t going to tell on himself, which is fair enough.
On Tuesday the official NBA referee Twitter page decided to comment on the play at hand, admitting that they had made a mistake and had missed a travel.
The offensive player gathers the ball while on his right foot. He then takes a step with his left foot (step 1) into a hop step, landing first with his right foot (step 2) and then illegally with his left (step 3). We missed this one – it is a traveling violation. https://t.co/BqMAoZHgIu
Having a Twitter account hasn’t always worked out for the NBRA. Their explanations of what many would consider to be violations have often stood in the face of common sense. To that end, they’ve sometimes been mocked on social media, which is against their goal of having the social channel in the first place. But this play with Harden was a particular sore subject with fans around the league, and it was right of them in to make a comment.
At least they got it right.
Watch LeBron James get blocked at the rim by Jarrett Allen
LeBron James is seemingly and ageless wonder. The Los Angeles Lakers forward is still one of the most athletic players to ever grace an NBA court, and despite his obvious physical decline, that’s not to say he’s a slouch out there. He’s not exactly late-career Boris Diaw just yet.
But LeBron is now 34 years old, and as such there are other players on the floor with him at any given time that have a bit more bounce than The King. James found that out the hard way on Tuesday night as the Lakers took on the Brooklyn Nets in New York.
During a play early in the first quarter, James drove to the basket only to be rejected by Brooklyn’s Jarrett Allen at the rim.