Jan 18, 2013, 3:09 AM EST
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.
Dec 23, 2014, 12:05 AM EST
Spurs guard sets up Danny Green 3-pointer
Dec 22, 2014, 11:15 PM EST
Rudy Gobert learned the hard way
Dec 22, 2014, 10:25 PM EST
It WAS a nice dunk… at least until that camera man got in the way
Dec 22, 2014, 9:35 PM EST
LeBron’s son has pretty impressive highlight mix
Dec 22, 2014, 8:44 PM EST
Beckham previously had dinner with LeBron James
Dec 22, 2014, 7:54 PM EST
Thunder point guard both dismissive and introspective after loss to Pelicans
Dec 22, 2014, 6:59 PM EST
Love will be booed more vehemently on Tuesday than LeBron will on Thursday.
Dec 22, 2014, 6:17 PM EST
Well, it would be better than more Jar Jar Binks.
Nick Young’s plan to ease Kobe’s burden: Give Young the ball because he’s best three point shooter in league
Dec 22, 2014, 5:45 PM EST
Young does not lack for confidence.
Dec 22, 2014, 4:35 PM EST
The Rockets are the frontrunners to land him.
Dec 22, 2014, 3:51 PM EST
Trail Blazers move up to second.
Dec 22, 2014, 3:05 PM EST
Boston might try to re-trade point guard acquired in Rajon Rondo deal
K.J. McDaniels’ mom yells at his teammates for dunking rather than passing, shooting free throws too slowly
Dec 22, 2014, 2:15 PM EST
Ms. McDaniels brings some fun to the 76ers-Magic game
Dec 22, 2014, 1:38 PM EST
Each reported suitor has an in with former Pistons forward
Dec 22, 2014, 1:01 PM EST
Maybe Dalembert wanted to get ejected so he didn’t have to watch any more of the Raptors easy win over the Knicks.
Dec 22, 2014, 12:21 PM EST
Pistons use stretch provision on forward owed more than $35 million
Dec 22, 2014, 11:55 AM EST
Will LeBron receive more cheers or boos?
Dec 22, 2014, 11:22 AM EST
In a Philadelphia win!
Dec 22, 2014, 10:29 AM EST
Magic guard avoiding sophomore slump of other top 2013-14 rookies
Dec 22, 2014, 9:39 AM EST
Philadelphia will waive Turiaf, who’s injured and out for season
- PBT’s weekly NBA Power Rankings: Santa brings Warriors top spot, lump of coal for Knicks 9
- Clippers, Mavericks, Rockets and Kings reportedly interested in signing Josh Smith 15
- Pistons release Josh Smith. WHAT? 56
- Lakers may give Kobe Bryant some nights off to rest. If he wants them. 27
- PBT’s Sunday Night Winners/Losers: Anthony Davis is playing like an MVP 13
- Sources: Kings prefer George Karl, not serious about hiring Mark Jackson 8
- Nuggets Danilo Gallinari has meniscus tear in right knee, out three weeks after surgery 7
- Rajon Rondo was very Rondoesque in debut with Mavericks (VIDEO) 20