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Three Stars of the Night: LeBron plus Wade equals too much for Lakers

Jan 18, 2013, 3:09 AM EDT

Miami Heat's James celebrates during their NBA basketball game against Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles

We really should just rename this the LeBron James and two other great performances of the night, considering the fact that when James is dialed in and chooses to exert maximum effort, all is lost for anyone trying to stop him.

Before we get to James, however, let’s highlight a couple of other guys who made their teams go on this night — one who plays alongside James, and another who isn’t nearly as well-known, but who can be equally important to his team just the same.

Third Star: Larry Sanders (19 points, 15 rebounds, 2 blocks)

The Bucks won in Phoenix for the first time in 25 years, and that feat doesn’t come without some terrific performances, despite this being a down season for the Suns. Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis did their usual amount of heavy lifting offensively, but Sanders was a huge part of the team’s winning effort, and deserves to be noticed.

Sanders kept his team in it during a dismal third quarter, scoring eight points and grabbing seven rebounds in the period. Then, the blocked shots came in a crucial stretch late, where he rejected Marcin Gortat and Luis Scola on consecutive possessions to dominate defensively as his team pulled away for the victory.

Second Star: Dwyane Wade (27 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists)

In a tight battle between teams loaded with superstars, the Heat used their championship mettle to pull away late and get a victory over a Lakers club that seems to be improving. While LeBron James was the ultimate reason Miami was able to win, they may not have been in that position at all without a stellar start and great all-around performance from Wade.

Wade was focused from the start going up against Kobe Bryant, and had a couple of dunks early — two on consecutive possessions — while being aggressive on the drive all night long.

Perhaps even more importantly, Wade’s swarming and athletic defensive efforts helped his team maintain their intensity on a night when the Lakers, despite their 20 turnovers, just seemed to keep coming and had the game tied with under two and a half minutes remaining.

First Star: LeBron James (39 points, seven rebounds, eight assists, three steals)

This was utter dominance from James, and on a night when he had it going like this — especially with Wade playing the way he did right alongside him — you can see why the Heat are the defending champs.

LeBron simply did whatever he wanted to do, and did so essentially all night long. His speed allowed him to get out in transition early, and his size and athleticism allowed him to score essentially at will, and get to the rim whenever he wanted. There’s no shame in losing to the Heat when James and Wade have it going like this at the same time, since there isn’t a team in the league that could beat Miami when James is truly focused and in a mode where he refuses to lose.

  1. lemfax - Jan 18, 2013 at 6:55 AM

    Miami still the eastern champion. But they need xtra muscles against the BIG3 (thu-cli-spu) of the west.

  2. fanofthegame79 - Jan 18, 2013 at 8:07 AM

    I’m not sure why everyone is still on the Thunder wagon. The Heat beat the same Thunder team that’s playing this season (with the Martin for Harden trade the difference) but the Heat beat that team in the finals 4-1 and they beat them in their head to head match up on Christmas this season. The Heat also beat the Spurs (minus their stars – thanks Pops) and the barely lost to the Clippers in LA. So I’m not worried. It seems like every time the Heat play a marquee team, they win.

    • soopreme - Jan 18, 2013 at 10:06 AM

      I agree 100%.
      The Heat has beaten the thunder 5 games in a row going back to the finals and when they play, you never get the feeling the Thunder can get over the hump.
      Plus, without Harden, I feel they are less of a threat.
      Also, they have no one to make Lebron uncomfortatble during games.
      Believe it or not, as a Heat fan I’m more fearful of Boston than the thunder.

    • dannymac17 - Jan 18, 2013 at 10:36 AM

      How you “barely lose” to the Clippers

      They took an L. They LOST. There is no “Barely winning or losing”

      That sound stupid as hell.

    • sun602 - Jan 18, 2013 at 11:35 AM

      You talk about how the Heat barely losing to the Clippers (as if that matters, loss is a loss), yet you fail to mention that they BARELY beat the Spurs without their starters (as you mentioned). They also lost to the Knicks.

      • sun602 - Jan 18, 2013 at 11:36 AM


      • fanofthegame79 - Jan 18, 2013 at 12:58 PM

        I hear ya…a loss is a loss – I was just pointing out that one has to be careful before we crown a champion. And I think close games can be examined…as can blow outs. But one should be able to find more to fix in watching game tape of a close game. I think a player can walk away from a close loss and think “we almost had that game…and we can get it next time”. A blow out, most players take it and move on without thinking much of it.

  3. shanbhu - Jan 18, 2013 at 10:42 AM

    Heat playing good defense the last 2 games and they won, i think theyll turn that D up in the playoffs. Till then, theyre on cruise control.

  4. flyrocket31 - Jan 18, 2013 at 2:36 PM

    damn that pass was nice…….. also is it legal to turn and push a guy on a fast break? (lebron when he filled the lane)

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