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Three Stars of the Night: Beard Power!

Jan 9, 2013, 12:05 AM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers v Houston Rockets Getty Images

I’m willing to give Paul George a pass for his slightly questionable beard growing abilities, primarily because he’s still only 22-years-old (scary, right?) and he’s still growing, uh, taller. George is listed at 6-foot-8, but some people are saying he’s now 6-foot-10, and even if that is a Bunyan-sized tall tale, we’ll let him finish growing up before we demand a better beard. It’s only fair, especially when he’s distracting us with offensive explosions against the Miami Heat. As for our other two stars? Those beards and those games require little introduction. It’s Three Stars:

Third Star: Reggie Evans – (2 points and 23 rebounds in 27 minutes)

Evans has been rebounding tirelessly for years, but tonight’s game was his masterpiece. His 23 rebounds marked a new career-high, but that only scratches the surface of his dominance on the glass. Evans pulled down 16 of those boards in the first half alone, and at one point about halfway through the third quarter, he had one more rebound than the entire 76ers team! The only way this could have been better is if Evans were allowed to play garbage time of the Nets’ 109-89 whooping of Philadelphia, or if he didn’t score two points, record two assists and grab one steal. How fun would a line with only 23 rebounds in it be? Instead, we’ll have to revel in the absurd rebounding percentages and rebound per minute stats from tonight — the same stats that for his career firmly place him among the greatest rebounders to ever play.

 

Second Star: James Harden – (31 points, 6 rebounds, 9 assists)

Just another day at the office for Harden, who has now scored at least 25 points in his last 13 games. As the Rockets further define their style of play with each passing game, Harden looks like an even better fit. Houston plays at the lightning quick pace of 97 possessions per 48 minutes, a number not even the “7 seconds or less” Phoenix Suns teams played at. These guys push the ball off misses and let threes fly with zero restraint, but it’s Harden who bridges the gap when the primary break or the secondary break doesn’t yield anything. Against the shorthanded Lakers, Harden swept through the lane with his mean eurostep, he threaded the needle (and went in between the legs once) on passes to his roll men, he posted from the elbow occasionally, and when everything else broke down, he’d just stop and pop for a jumper. This offense has staying power, especially if Chandler Parsons keeps playing a mean smallball four.

 

First Star: Paul George – (29 points, 11 rebounds)

It’s awfully hard to keep Dwyane Wade and LeBron James down once you’ve got them there, but George’s second-half scoring outburst did the trick. With Indiana’s defense holding the Heat to a season-low 35 points in the second half, George took care of business on the other end with some huge momentum capturing 3-pointers and some tough finishes off the dribble. 22 of George’s 29 points came in the second half, which provided a much needed boost for one of the league’s worst offenses. It’s not often you see a team shoot 36 percent from the field and win by ten points, but Indiana’s 22 (!) offensive rebounds provided George with enough chances to fill it up. It’s funny, but a lot of people forget just how close Indiana was to defeating Miami in the playoffs last season, even with George giving them nothing offensively. The road to an NBA Finals will go through Miami for quite some time, so George netting a nice scoring night against LeBron and company is just another step in the maturation process for one of the league’s most tantalizing young talents.

  1. captainwisdom8888 - Jan 9, 2013 at 12:42 AM

    That Paul George will be getting it done in this league for quite a while longer…what an animal.

    • saint1997 - Jan 9, 2013 at 6:39 AM

      favourite player in the league hands down. I hope he ends up like T-Mac and just becomes an absolute dominant man on both ends, full on superstar. They should trade Danny Granger for some help at the 2 or as a sign and trade at the end of the season for a new 4 because Paul has the 3 locked down

  2. mungman69 - Jan 9, 2013 at 3:20 AM

    Can Indiana play this way for an entire season?

  3. timb12 - Jan 9, 2013 at 3:32 AM

    I live in Houston and I really like Harden. But on my drive to work I see a couple of billboards that say very unoriginal things like “Houston, we have a beard…The beard has landed…Beard+Linsanity=Beardsanity” I just think it’s lame they use the beard as a one trick pony. He’s a person too! Haha I didn’t know what other place I could go on a rant and get a lot of thumbs down. So I did it here.

    • xLith - Jan 9, 2013 at 11:00 AM

      I’ve been following Harden since OKC and he embraces the beard stuff. If you follow his twitter, you’ll see this pretty often. Don’t take it as insulting him by those billboards. Fear the beard!

  4. johnmindiola - Jan 9, 2013 at 10:37 AM

    What, no mention of Nikolai Pekovic for the Wolves? They were without their star player and took it to the Hawks, who are no slouches. Pek had 25 and 18 last night. He’s and old school center, an absolute paintzilla.

    • broncobeta - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:28 PM

      He was confused with all of the other Europeans on the Wolves roster.

      What a great not from Kirlink… Shved… Rubi… Pekovic?

  5. bowmanj35 - Jan 9, 2013 at 10:50 AM

    only in Houston would someone claim t-mac was dominant on both ends of the floor. lol.

    • xLith - Jan 9, 2013 at 10:59 AM

      I loved T-Mac and live in Houston. I agree he wasn’t dominant on both ends often at all. He could be pretty decent with his length when he wanted to. That was the problem though, he never wanted to.

    • southsidegroovin281 - Jan 9, 2013 at 1:42 PM

      Please take a poll before you text…I’m also a Houstonian. And by NO means did I ever think Tracy McGrady was a dominant player. What a waste of talent! Harden has done more in his 1st season with the Rockets than McLady. And definitely has more HEART than that lazy eyed sucka would ever have. Lastly he’s only 23. We got McLady at 26. His ceiling is way higher.

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