Notes From Day 3 Of All-Star Weekend
Nuggets from my notebook from Sunday at All-Star Weekend.
- The All-Star game is always a spectacle. Sometimes in a good way. Sometimes in an over-the-top kind of way. But the NBA does a tremendous job of putting on a show, and the 62nd All-Star Game did not disappoint.
- Chris Paul took home MVP honors after scoring 20 points with 15 assists. Some would say it should have belonged to Kevin Durant. My guess is most of those people reside in Oklahoma.
- Paul was fabulous. He started the game as a distributor, controlled the tempo throughout the contest, made plays for others, made others look silly (going between Chris Bosh’s legs) and took over with his scoring late, hitting big shots to keep the East at bay before flat out burying them. Paul scored nine fourth-quarter points and added two assists and a steal in that final period. The 3-pointer he drilled with 3 1/2 minutes remaining sealed the MVP for him. It put the West back on top by six after the East had scored four unanswered points to cut a seven-point deficit to three.
- Durant on Paul winning the MVP: “He deserved it. He had great passes, (was) making steals (and) made big buckets. He played a helluva game and congratulations to him. It was a pleasure playing with him.”
- Durant scored a game-high 30 points, becoming the first player in All-Star Game history to score at least 30 points in three straight games. With 115 total points in his four All-Star appearances, Durant has now scored more points in his first four All-Star Games than any player in the game’s history. His 28.8-point average is 3.7 points higher then LeBron James, who scored 19 Sunday and sits in second place.
- Durant on what’s made him so deadly in these All-Star Games: “I’m shooting a lot of shots, 24 shots up in 31 minutes. I’m just out there having fun…I played a lot of street basketball. I played a lot of celebrity games. This is my type of ballgame, up and down.”
- Here’s why Durant didn’t win MVP. Ten of his 30 were a product of Paul’s passes. CP3 set up Durant (and everybody else) for some easy buckets. Durant’s scoring looked great on the scoreboard. But the way Paul assisted him (and others) was more dominant.
- That doesn’t mean Durant’s scoring wasn’t impressive. Late in the second quarter, Durant led all scorers with 17 points. No other All-Star had scored more than nine at that point.
- Durant is holding back on us, Oklahoma. When he gets a run-out at home, all he does is his one-handed tomahawk dunk. With 5:52 remaining in the first quarter tonight, he broke out a reverse double pump dunk. Why can’t we get that, KD? Huh?
- Russell Westbrook checked in for the first time with 3:53 remaining in the opening quarter and played the 2-guard spot next to Tony Parker. His first bucket, a pull-up in the lane, came two minutes into his first stint. Westbrook would finish with 14 points on 7-for-13 shooting.
- With 1:18 left in the first quarter, old friend James Harden threw a lob to Westbrook, who threw down a two-handed dunk. Durant was the only player on either team to get up off the bench. When he did, he kicked his leg (Cole Aldrich style) and did a little shimmy. Just like old times.
- Westbrook, Harden and Durant were a part of the West’s five-man unit that started the second quarter. Anybody shed a tear there?
- Durant on reuniting with Harden: “Playing with him made me miss him a little bit. I’m happy he was an All-Star, especially in the city he plays in. It was a lot of fun. I didn’t want it to be over.”
- Harden on the reunion: “He just told me he missed me in the locker room again. I miss those guys as well. Just being with them every day. When you leave somewhere, you definitely are going to miss them. This weekend was good for us to see each other and catch up on good times.”
- Crying yet?
- The three leading shot takers on the West: KD (24), Westbrook (13) and Harden (13). They must not grow ‘em to be gun shy in OKC.
- Both Paul and Tony Parker put it between Bosh’s legs on baseline drives. Normally, that’s not so embarrassing in this setting. The thing that made it so was Bosh was trying really, really hard to defend both of those guys on the perimeter.
- With 4:40 remaining in the third quarter, and Durant sitting on 24 points while Westbrook had just eight, KD passed up an isolation attempt on Joakim Noah and dished it to Russ. Westbrook then drove and kick to Parker for an open corner 3. That was a cool sequence to see out of KD. He knew he was rolling and Westbrook hadn’t gotten many looks. He clearly wanted to get his guy going.
- Why did Westbrook not only change shoes, but also then put on one red pair and one blue pair? Or maybe the better question is why not?
- Kobe Bryant’s defense on LeBron in the fourth quarter was amazing. It sort of looked like last year’s All-Star Game finish, when LeBron “shrunk” in the moment and passed it off while Bryant defended him. Unfortunately for all of Oklahoma, that was the last time LeBron would be labeled weak in the clutch.
- Kobe on if it was a signature defensive performance from him: “I don’t know if it was signature. I’m known for my defense. I can defend. I’m pretty smart with my defense. I don’t know if it was signature, though.”
- If this is indeed Kevin Garnett’s final All-Star Game as he suggests, he went out with a scoreless performance, missing his only two shots while grabbing three rebounds and dishing one assist in only 6 minutes, 26 seconds.
- On that note, Tim Duncan played just eight minutes and scored two points with three boards. Two of the greatest power forwards ever might have just bowed out of the All-Star Game without much fanfare.
- Garnett and LaMarcus Aldridge were the only two scoreless players in this one.
- The East’s 26 points in the opening period were the fewest either team scored in any period.
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