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Three Stars of the Night: Welcome Back, Z-Bo.

Dec 5, 2012, 12:02 AM EDT

Memphis Grizzlies v Sacramento Kings Getty Images

What a night. Indiana Pacers swingman Paul George scored nearly half of his team’s points (34 points on 14-for-25 shooting) in a victory over the Bulls, and he didn’t make the list. Deron Williams had 33 points and 7 assists, nearly carrying the Nets to a victory over the Thunder, and you won’t find him here. Jordan Crawford dropped 22 and 6 in a Wizards win (!) over the Miami Heat (!!!) and, yup, he didn’t make the cut either. Who were Tuesday’s Three Stars of the Night? We’ve got ‘em right here:

Third Star: Greg Smith – (21 points and 9 rebounds in 24 minutes)

Everyone made fun of the Rockets for having a roster that consisted of roughly 14 power forwards, but Rockets GM Daryl Morey is probably the one laughing now. With all the viable frontcourt options the Rockets possess, who would have thought that an undrafted free agent would actually outplay Dwight Howard and lock up a come from behind victory over the Los Angeles Lakers? While Howard squirmed uncomfortably on the free throw line (8-for-16) again during Hack-A-Howard, little known reserve big man Greg Smith actually made his clutch free throws and attacked hard for the Rockets, taking little dump off passes strong to the tin with a fearlessness not commonly used around the league’s biggest defensive presence. Smith’s 11 fourth quarter points were a testament to his tough play, but his four offensive rebounds illustrated an even bigger problem among the Lakers frontline (21 offensive rebounds allowed total). With Jeremy Lin, James Harden and Chandler Parsons combining to go a dreadful 10-for-44 from the field, the Rockets needed everything they could get from Smith (and Toney Douglas) to make up for a double digit deficit and take the win.

Second Star: Kevin Durant (32 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds)

Durant has you dead in the water the second he gets the ball, which is why you’ll see teams fight through those pindown screens so hard to try and prevent him from catching the ball. Durant’s ability to turn the corner and reach those comically long arms out towards the rim was just too much for Brooklyn to stop — especially without Brook Lopez in the lineup to protect the basket. The Thunder didn’t run anything particularly pretty down the stretch, but Durant was a foul magnet and converted all his chances (12-for-12) on the evening. Pairing a True Shooting Percentage of about 65 percent with such a high usage rate is just absurd and largely unprecedented, but that’s Durant for ya.

First Star:  Zach Randolph (38 points, 22 rebounds, 3 blocks, 15-for-22 shooting)

What a bully. Z-Bo had only scored more than 20 points in a game once this season, but he definitely made his rounds on the block and beat up anyone who got in his way. Randolph got ridiculously low post position all night, and in a sign that he’s healthy and ready to go again, even threw down a one-handed jam off an overpowering post move. Randolph grabbed 7 offensive rebounds (or Z-bounds, for the Grizz fans out there), and really just lived right next to the rim all day. After scoring all 13 of his field goals in the paint during regulation, Randolph showed off his outside touch in overtime, knocking in two mid-range jumpers to effectively put the game away.

  1. eventhorizon04 - Dec 5, 2012 at 12:34 AM

    1. Nice win by the Rockets, with a lot of the non-stars stepping up.

    The most concerning thing about Dwight Howard in this game is not his free throw shooting – it’s the lack of rebounding late in the game.

    If you watch that highlight video, the Rockets came back in part because of all the offensive rebounds they got in the final few minutes. The Lakers made the trade for Howard fully expecting him to struggle at the free throw line, but they expected him to make up for that with defense and rebounding, particularly in “clutch-time” situations. Instead, you see a bunch of Houston guards and forwards tipping the ball to teammates and giving Houston extra possessions.

    2. OKC is on a roll, and Brooklyn is proving they hang with some of the best teams in the NBA. Good time to be a basketball fan in NYC.

    3. I know it’s still early, but Memphis is looking REALLY good….

    • fanofevilempire - Dec 5, 2012 at 6:57 AM

      I guess you didn’t know Howard has a bad back……………… but he does need to hit the free throws……………………

      Nash is on the bench and Gasol just got the seat near him for a few games.

  2. kae0923 - Dec 5, 2012 at 10:03 AM

    Go Grizz! Grit & Grind

  3. memphistigers311 - Dec 5, 2012 at 1:13 PM

    ZBO is a beast, from watching the game, he is very healthy, and dominated those poor Suns players. DOMINATED

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