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Three Stars of the Night: Guys that their teams need in the playoffs edition

Mar 14, 2013, 2:50 AM EDT

Indiana Pacers center Hibbert puts up a shot against Minnesota Timberwolves forward Williams during their NBA basketball game in Indianapolis Reuters

Every team entering the playoffs needs their star to step up, but these three guys have a little extra weight on their shoulders. Without big performances these guys’ teams sink fast in the postseason (or in Kobe’s case, don’t even make the playoffs).

Honorable mention tonight to Thaddeus Young who put up 24 points and 15 rebounds in a losing effort.

Third Star: Kobe Bryant (31 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists)

The Lakers recent run of wins came because Dwight Howard started playing better defense, because the Lakers started to find an identity, and mostly because Kobe was running the offense, scoring and setting guys up. If they are going to make the playoffs, let alone do any damage, they are going to need him back and moving well after his severe ankle sprain. They are also going to need a more efficient Kobe than the one Wednesday who needed 33 shots to get his 31 points — those kind of numbers get the Lakers golfing early. Especially against the top of the West.

Second Star: Stephen Curry (31 points, 8 assists)

It’s not just Curry with the Warriors, it’s really him and David Lee in concert. The Warriors don’t play enough defense as a team to have that win them playoff games (and that likely is their undoing), but they can win games when Curry and Lee put up big games. And Curry did that against the Pistons on Wednesday. Curry got his 31 points on 14 shots and was 5-of-7 from three. Golden State is going to need a lot more of that to get out of first round, and other teams will put up more resistance than the slumping Pistons.

First Star: Roy Hibbert (27 points, 12 rebounds, 4 blocks)

Count me in the camp that says if one team has a shot at the Heat in the East, it’s the Pacers. Actually, after the last 20 games I don’t think any team in the East has a real chance, but the Pacers have the best of the insane long shots. But for that to happen (or even to reach the conference finals) they need Hibbert to play the best basketball of his career. Against an undermanned Timberwolves team Wednesday Hibbert was that guy — he absolutely dominated the paint and got his team the win. It’s another thing to do that against a playoff team, but after how poorly Hibbert started the season it’s good to see him rounding into form when it matters most.

  1. baymac408 - Mar 14, 2013 at 2:56 AM

    Shout out Steph holdin it down all year!! .. All Laker hate aside, it sucks when a player gets injured! GO WARRIORS! Gotta get it in

  2. mungman69 - Mar 14, 2013 at 5:12 AM

    Where is Danny Granger?

    • eventhorizon04 - Mar 14, 2013 at 6:08 AM

      He began experiencing knee pain after returning to play, so they shut him down again.

      Official story is they expect him to be back by the playoffs.

  3. davidly - Mar 14, 2013 at 7:30 AM

    Kudos for putting Hibbert up there. Would Bryant be on this list had he not been injured, I wonder? (I know some people are never happy, right?)

    In general, in this universe or any other, Kobe Bryant is a sports’ phenom, no doubt in my mind. But last night he missed 22 shots and had 5 turnovers in a losing effort where he missed the final shot to win the game.

    John Wall, on the other hand shot 53% for 23/6/10 with 4 steals & 2 turnovers, and most importantly the WIZARDS WIN!!!111!

    Or hell, how about little ol’ Mike Conley (my homie, a NapTown boy) who keyed the Grizz to a win on the road against Chris Paul & the Clipps with 17 pts, 11 assists and, only 1 turnover?

    davidly one-note
    Lakers record when Bryant takes as many or more shots than his team has assists: 8-22, with the wins being against the Bobcats, Wizards, Warriors, Knicks, Nets, Blazers, Mavs, and Hawks (last time, when they played them at home).

    I know this is not all KB’s fault; sometimes you gotta take what the D gives you. But let’s get real: sometimes it is his fault.

    So Kobe, if you’re reading this (yeah, right, right?): You’re a living legend, a credit to the league and the game. To paraphrase Richard Sherman, you are better at life than me. But now is the chance to see if Nash and Howard can full-on display the reason why they’re future HoFers.

    Get better soon.

    • Kurt Helin - Mar 14, 2013 at 8:35 PM

      I was going with the “guys who have to be ready of the playoffs” theme. Most nights there are a lot of guys who could make the list so you choose a theme and go with it. Wall didn’t make the playoff one. Kobe did in part because of the injury and as I said, talking playoffs he can’t shoot like that.

      • davidly - Mar 15, 2013 at 4:32 AM

        Thanks for the reply. I knew that. I’ve even defended your choices based on themes before. But I couldn’t help myself taking an opportunity to rant.

        That said: My note on Conley stands. That was a clutch road performance.

  4. progress2011 - Mar 14, 2013 at 10:45 AM

    Kobe the FAKER…

    Munchausen Syndrome (kobe’s diagnosis) – Munchausen (MOON-chow-zun) syndrome is a serious mental disorder in which someone with a deep need for attention pretends to be sick or gets sick or injured on purpose. People with Munchausen syndrome may make up symptoms, push for risky operations, or try to rig laboratory test results to try to win sympathy and concern.

    FAKER.I hope he can get help, once he retires.

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