Skip to content

Three Stars of the Night: Harden’s Revenge Game

Feb 21, 2013, 2:30 AM EST

James Harden AP

On a night where trade talk dominated the news, James Harden served up a reminder that there’s an awful lot that must be considered when making a deal. Who knows how much it mattered to Oklahoma City at the time, but trading James Harden to a perennially competitive Western Conference foe badly in need of such a player doesn’t seem exactly ideal right about now, does it? Instead of having to deal with him only twice a year, the Thunder very realistically could have to deal with Harden in a playoff series — now and down the road.

This was a revenge game at its best for Harden, but who will join him in the Three Stars? Let’s get right to it.

Third Star: Nikola Pekovic – (27 points, 18 rebounds, 2 blocks)

If you skipped Timberwolves-Sixers on the ol’ league pass, I don’t blame you. This was an ugly game where both teams shot below 40 percent, but it had a redeeming factor, and his name was Nikola Pekovic. In his typical bullying manner, Pekovic regularly thrusted his left shoulder directly into his opponent’s chest, knocking them back to create the space to let up his little right handed flips and hooks. Pekovic is a big from another era — plodding and mean, substituting strength for stretch. He’s a rarity nowadays, but like the sixth Rocky movie taught me, there’s no substitute for raw power.

Second Star: Kyrie Irving (35 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists)

This was a hot streak you could feel. When Irving checked in at the seven minute mark of the fourth quarter, the Cavs were down two against the Hornets. That didn’t last long. Irving absolutely dominated right away, tallying 20 points in seven minutes of nearly flawless basketball. You hear the Chris Paul comparisons with Irving, and the trait they similar is pretty unique. With the game on the line and defenses focused against them, Paul and Irving both have the rare ability to get uncontested layups. Not contested, falling away, difficult pull-up jumpers — layups. Irving did that twice down the stretch with some sick ballhandling, but he also stepped in to draw a charge and nabbed an offensive rebound. You knew this already, but let’s put this exhibit in the “Kyrie Irving is a star” file immediately.

First Star: James Harden (46 points on 19 shots, 8 rebounds, 6 assists)

This was absurd. The Rockets were down 12 in the fourth quarter at one point, then three minutes later, they were tied. Harden’s career-high 46 points came in every imaginable way — from behind the arc (7-for-8), from the line (11-for-12), in the pick-and-roll, transition — pretty much everywhere. Lin and Harden combined for 75 points against Oklahoma City and played huge roles in the comeback, knocking down momentum shifting shots time and time again. You couldn’t ask for a better, more timely, more efficient performance than the one Harden put on tonight. This was his best yet.

Latest Posts
  1. Victor Oladipo, focused on effort and defense, still finds time to raise offense

    Dec 22, 2014, 10:29 AM EST

    Toronto Raptors beat the Orlando Magic 95-82 Getty Images

    Magic guard avoiding sophomore slump of other top 2013-14 rookies

  2. 76ers were third team in Corey Brewer trade, send Alexey Shved to Rockets

    Dec 22, 2014, 9:39 AM EST

    Atlanta Hawks v Houston Rockets Getty Images

    Philadelphia will waive Turiaf, who’s injured and out for season

  3. Lakers may give Kobe Bryant some nights off to rest. If he wants them.

    Dec 22, 2014, 9:00 AM EST

    Los Angeles Lakers v Sacramento Kings Getty Images

    Byron Scott can tell Kobe to rest, but it will be Kobe’s decision. Kobe has the power in that relationship.

  4. PBT’s Sunday Night Winners/Losers: Anthony Davis is playing like an MVP

    Dec 22, 2014, 1:43 AM EST

    Anthony Davis, Chris Kaman AP

    Quality win for LeBron James and the Cavaliers as well.

  5. Rudy Gay dunks on all the Lakers (VIDEO)

    Dec 22, 2014, 12:39 AM EST

    Rudy Gay Rudy Gay

    The seas part and Rudy Gay had a path to the rim.

  6. Goran Dragic keeps his options open, says he’d consider coming to Knicks

    Dec 21, 2014, 9:30 PM EST

    Goran Dragic, Jose Calderon, Cole Aldrich AP

    Of course he said he’d consider the Knicks, it’s just smart business.

  7. Sources: Kings prefer George Karl, not serious about hiring Mark Jackson

    Dec 21, 2014, 6:30 PM EST

    George Karl AP

    The very public meeting with Jackson was leverage to help get Karl to lower his asking price.

  8. Brad Stevens insists he won’t leave Celtics for a college job

    Dec 21, 2014, 5:00 PM EST

    Brad Stevens Brad Stevens

    Stevens dismisses rumors of Indiana University.

  9. Iman Shumpert won’t require surgery for dislocated shoulder

    Dec 21, 2014, 3:30 PM EST

    Iman Shumpert Iman Shumpert

    The Knicks guard will be reevaluated in two weeks.

  10. Larry Sanders opens up about disastrous 2013-14 season

    Dec 21, 2014, 12:30 PM EST

    Larry Sanders Larry Sanders

    Everything went wrong for Sanders and the Bucks last year.

  11. Report: Lance Stephenson has clashed with Hornets teammates

    Dec 21, 2014, 11:00 AM EST

    Chicago Bulls v Charlotte Hornets Getty Images

    Why else would trade rumors surface 20 games or so into his first season in Charlotte?

  12. Blake Griffin with dagger tip-in to lift Clippers past Bucks (VIDEO)

    Dec 21, 2014, 8:00 AM EST

    Blake Griffin, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Chris Paul AP

    The Bucks went heavy with Brandon Knight at the end of the game. That went about as well as you’d expect.

Featured video

Jabari Parker injury latest for disappointing rookie class
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Durant (7385)
  2. K. Martin (7081)
  3. R. Rondo (6719)
  4. C. Bosh (6688)
  5. M. Smart (6472)
  1. T. Jones (6309)
  2. T. Parker (6256)
  3. D. Rose (6232)
  4. A. Bogut (6000)
  5. B. Lopez (5888)