With the start of the NBA Playoffs a couple of days away the NBA’s best a begining to bring in the A-Game to every game and had really impressive performances from stars helping their teams lock down a playoff spot.
Here are the best performers of the week ending April 22, 2012.
James Harden – Oklahoma City Thunder
James Harden has had his way with Phoenix this season.
Oklahoma City’s bearded, superb reserve scored a career-high 40 points, hitting five 3-pointers, and the Thunder dealt Phoenix a blow in its scramble to make the playoffs with a 109-97 victory over the Suns on Wednesday night.
Harden, who starred at nearby Arizona State, made 12 of 17 shots overall and was 11-of-11 from the free throw line in 33 minutes. He said it was a special night with “family, coaches, friends” in the stands.
Kobe Bryant – Los Angeles Lakers
Kobe Bryant scored six of his 26 points in the second overtime alongside an unorthodox Lakers lineup, and Los Angeles rallied from an 18-point deficit in the second half for a 114-106 victory over the Thunder on Sunday.
Pau Gasol had 20 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists for the Lakers, who made an impressive comeback in their regular-season home finale against off-target Thunder stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, who combined to miss 42 of their 56 shots. Los Angeles’ rally stunned the Thunder and set an early tone for their possible second-round playoff matchup.
Bryant struggled through the first three quarters of his first home game since April 6 before coming alive down the stretch during Los Angeles’ rally. Bryant then hit the tiebreaking fall-away jumper with 52 seconds left in the second overtime, followed by two free throws as the Lakers hung on.
Metta World Peace was subdued and contrite in the Los Angeles Lakers’ locker room, apologizing to Oklahoma City’s James Harden for throwing the elbow that sent them both to the locker room in the second quarter and left Harden with a concussion.
World Peace, who changed his name last year, has been mostly well-behaved during his three seasons with the Lakers, even winning an award as the NBA’s citizen of the year for his extensive charity work around mental-health issues. Yet he’ll always be most famous for his 86-game suspension for participating in the brawl in the Palace of Auburn Hills stands while playing for Indiana in November 2004. For Details on World Peace Knock out hit to Harden Click here.
Kevin Durant - Oklahoma City Thunder
MVP candidate Kevin Durant showed off his all-around game, finishing with 29 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists for the near triple-double in front of legend Oscar Robertson. Super-sub James Harden scored 20 points while All-Star Russell Westbrook added 18 points as the Thunder moved to 46-17 on the season.
Durant and Westbrook were incredible. The Kings did their best to slow the duo, but they still put on a show, finishing with a combined 47 points on 17-for-30 shooting from the field.
Durant finished the week with 29.3 points and 9.5 rebounds.
Carmelo Anthony – New York Knicks
Carmelo Anthony notched his second career triple-double with 35 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists, J.R. Smith had a season-high of 25 points and Steve Novak tallied a career-high 25 as the Knicks beat the Atlantic Division-leading Boston Celtics 118-110 at Madison Square Garden.
Anthony remains one of the hottest players in the NBA. He entered averaging 32.8 points over his last five games, which included two 40+-point outings.
Paul Pierce – Boston Celtics
Paul Pierce Sharp passes and solid foul shooting was just too much for the Orlando Magic to handle.
Pierce did everything for the Boston Celtics on Wednesday, expanding his role on an injury-depleted lineup and lifting them to a 102-98 win over the Orlando Magic that clinched the Atlantic Division title.
It came one night after he scored 43 points.
For the second straight night he drove hard to the basket, repeatedly drawing fouls. He sank 17-of-18 free throws in a 118-110 loss to the New York Knicks on Tuesday night then made 11 of 12 against the Magic.
Pierce tied his career high with his 13th assist with 4:37 still left in the third quarter. He got his 14th with 9.5 seconds left in the period, feeding Bass for a jumper from the left corner.
Pierce had 29 points and a career-high 14 assists with Rajon Rondo sidelined with a sore lower back.
Chris Paul – Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers were ragged for the first 40 minutes. They got it together for the final eight, long enough to pull out a victory in their last home game of the regular season.
Chris Paul had 33 points and 13 assists as the Clippers rallied for a 107-98 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Sunday night to move within a half-game of the Lakers for the Pacific Division lead and the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference.
The Clippers blew an 11-point lead in the first quarter and fell behind by 13 in the fourth before eventually winning their second in a row and 11th of their last 12 at home.
Paul was fouled by Greivis Vasquez on a 3-point attempt, and he made all three accompanied by chants of “MVP! MVP!” to put the Clippers ahead 95-93.
There should be more talk about Chris Paul being in the MVP conversation as his averaging a double double for the season and might just win the division this season. He finished the week with 21.3 points and 10 assists and the Clippers went 4-0 for the week.
LeBron James – Miami Heat
No one is having a better season than the King and this week was no different. LeBron James left the Nets stunned and their coach speechless.
The only people who knew how to describe what they were seeing were the New Jersey fans.
James scored Miami’s final 17 points in a furious one-man rally, finishing with 37 as the Heat pulled out a 101-98 victory over the Nets on Monday night.
In a game the Heat never led until the final 51 seconds, James willed them to their 10th straight victory over the Nets. With Dwyane Wade resting,
James scored those 17 points over the last 4:48 of a game that immediately goes into his personal collection of memorable finishes.
James finished the game wih 37 points, 7 assist and 6 rebound.
His weeks average wasn’t any different as he finished the week out with 32 points, 5.5 assists and 7.5 rebounds.