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Three Stars of the Night: LeBron’s milestones steal the night

Jan 17, 2013, 2:20 AM EDT

Miami Heat LeBron James looks on during the second half of their NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland

Every night in the NBA offers some sort of impressive performance. Three Stars attempts to filter through them and give you, the reader, a chance to know who did what the best.

But on some nights, it’s about more than one game’s worth of work that makes up a performance. Tonight is one such night.

Because while some guys went for season highs (we’ll tell you about one in a second) and another became unguardable by catching fire from mid-range (we’ll tell you about him too), tonight was more about a decade’s worth of work coming to a head in a single night and culminating with some eye popping numbers.

Without further ado, here are our three stars:

Third Star: Russell Westbrook (32 points, 12-20 FG’s, 4 assists)

At first glance, Westbrook’s numbers are impressive but don’t necessarily stand out. And then when you realize that he only played 28 minutes in this game and was part of a hot start that helped to bury a very good Denver Nugget team, it becomes more impressive. Westbrook started out hot, scoring 16 points in the first period (the Nuggets as a team had 18) and 25 in the first half. Westbrook absolutely blitzed Denver with his mid-range jumper and then exploited a defense worried about that shot by getting all the way to the rim to score there too. On nights like this, Westbrook shows why he’s one of the elite players in the league and mutes his critics.

Second Star: Carlos Boozer (36 points, 12 rebounds, 16-24 shooting)

It’s not been discussed very much, but lately Carlos Boozer has been playing very well and tonight he continued that trend against the Raptors. In what ended up being a very close game that Bulls tried to give away, Boozer was the main reason the Bulls were up big in the first place and the key they didn’t fall all the way behind and lose this game in regulation. By bullying his way close to the basket, Boozer set up shop in the paint and scored easily. When he wasn’t camping down low, he hit his mid-range jumper to keep the Raptors off-balance. His 36 points represent a season high and when combined with his work on the glass, the Bulls surely would have been on the wrong end of the scoreboard without him tonight. I guess the only extra thing Boozer could have done was hit the game winner, but that honor belonged to Luol Deng:

First Star: LeBron James (25 points, 10 assists, 7 rebounds)

Ho-hum. Just another night at the shop for LeBron, falling 3 rebounds shy of a triple double while putting his imprint on the game in every way imaginable. Dominant defense? Check. Great shot making? Check. Setting up his teammates for easy shots close to the rim and wide open jumpers from behind the arc? Check. But it wasn’t just LeBron showing off his versatility that made tonight special. No, it was the fact that in the process of manhandling the Warriors, LeBron scored his 20,000th career point and handed out his 5,000th assist. James became the youngest player to break the 20K barrier (besting Kobe Bryant). A special night for a special, special player.

  1. smoochytherhino - Jan 17, 2013 at 10:54 AM

    I understand that MJ got all the calls since he was, well, MJ. But it was also a different league then, and the combination of the softer league and Lebron’s stardom make for a ridiculous night of officiating every time he is on the court.

    It’s borderline unwatchable. The guy never gets called for a foul on D and if you breathe on him he’s at the line. Somebody needs to go Rick Mahorn on “the king” and remind him how it used to be. Take the suspension; it’d be worth it.

    • thenmoveback - Jan 17, 2013 at 11:06 AM

      It’s obvious that you don’t actually watch Heat games. LBJ 2 games ago VS Utah had 5 fouls against him and was hacked several times going to the rim, including a drive that would have tied the game up. Yes he gets “star” treatment but no more then Kobe or Durant. Try watching more heat games ( whole games not jut highlights) and u will see. The man works hard to be the best and he is!

      • smoochytherhino - Jan 17, 2013 at 11:26 AM

        Oh he’s the definitely the best all around player in the world. I’m not arguing that. I watched some of the Utah game didn’t realize he ended up with 5 fouls, I’m amazed.

        I mean the guy did go from December 8 until Christmas without being called for a foul so it’s not like I’m talking crazy here. Have you ever heard of someone going weeks without being called for a foul? Most players can’t go more than 10 minutes without a whistle.

    • southbeachtalent - Jan 17, 2013 at 11:25 AM

      LeBron gets mugged just about everytime he approaches the rim. You’re insecurities are getting the best of you smoochy.

  2. apistolpeteproduction - Jan 17, 2013 at 12:22 PM

    LeBron doesn’t get called for a lot of fouls because he doesn’t make a lot of steal attempts. He doesn’t hack people when they shoot, so he gets a low amount of d fouls called. LeBron actually picks up more offensive fouls than most players and he gets hacked on every play and misses the call because he powers through the fouls. He is probably the most fouled man in the sport really, but the game would have no pace and the other team would run low in players if LeBron got the call every time he really got fouled.

    • pantsfreezone - Jan 17, 2013 at 5:10 PM

      I agree with everything you said but this:Dwight Howard is the most fouled player in the league. This year his back is keeping his athleticism down, but if you watch the previous 8 seasons of Howard play in Orlando you will see a guy who gets absolutely clobbered every time he touches the ball in a non-alley-oop capacity.

  3. apistolpeteproduction - Jan 17, 2013 at 12:24 PM

    Do the world a favor smoochy, and don’t waste our time comparing LeBron James to your average NBA player. Just because Sebastian Telfair picks up a foul every 10 minutes, it doesn’t mean everyone in the league does. The bottom half of the league picks up a lot of fouls because they cannot stop the offense of the best players. Its relative common sense, which is why LeBron all most wins the defensive player of the year every year, because good defense doesn’t involve fouls. He can outrun and out jump lesser nba players.

  4. miamatt - Jan 17, 2013 at 2:57 PM

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    No. 1 in every game plan against Miami: hammer James and Wade whenever they get into the paint. They get a lot of calls, but they take a ton of punishment and certainly don’t get every call. Refs won’t call fouls on every possession so really, foul ‘em every time and you’ll get away with it plenty.

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