TrueHoop: 2013 NBA All-Star Game

First Cup: Monday

February, 18, 2013
By Nick Borges
  • Dan Woike of The Orange County Register: The Clippers biggest star shone brightest in Texas Sunday night. Chris Paul was named the game's Most Valuable Player as he orchestrated the Western Conference to a 143-138 win over the Eastern Conference in the NBA All-Star Game at the Toyota Center. "Pretty special. Pretty special," Paul said of the award. "It's something I've never done, and it's something that I definitely, coming into the game, wasn't trying to achieve or thinking that it might even be possible." Paul starred as he showed off his supreme dribbling and passing skills on his way to a double-double with 20 points and 15 assists. "He's always looking to pass," Clippers forward Blake Griffin said of his teammate. "This is like his dream right here, having scorers everywhere. He makes the game fun."
  • Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: He nearly did it again. Kevin Durant came up just a bit short of earning a second consecutive All-Star Game MVP despite scoring a game-high 30 points in the West's 143-138 over the East on Sunday night inside the Toyota Center. Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul won the MVP, his first of his career, after scoring 20 points with 15 assists. Had Durant finished the job, it would have been the first time in NBA history that a player has won back-to-back MVP honors outright. Bob Pettit, after winning the honor in 1958, shared the award a year later with Elgin Baylor. “He deserved it,” Durant said of Paul winning the award. “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.”
  • Baxter Holmes of The Boston Globe: Kevin Garnett saluted the fans and tapped his heart. The Boston Celtics forward doled out a few fist-bumps to teammates and foes. Then he took to the court, played six scoreless minutes, and took a seat. His 15th All-Star Game appearance amounted to a harmless cameo, just as he and coach Doc Rivers had hoped. “Six minutes, yep, right where I wanted it to be,” Garnett said. He missed his only two shots. He grabbed three rebounds. He had an assist. When the game quickly turned into a dunk contest, he deferred to the younger players, letting them run and gun. When his time was up Sunday night, Garnett left the 62d All-Star Game at Toyota Center and walked toward the bench, put on a warm-up shirt and pants, and wrapped a towel around his neck. … Garnett had said last week that this All-Star appearance would “definitely” be his last. He clarified that comment by saying he just wasn’t sure if he’d be selected as an All-Star next year. If it was his final time playing in a game where he’s practically a fixture, Garnett signed off with his eyes on the rest of the season, his 18th in the NBA.
  • Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News: This time seven years ago, the Spurs were the defending champs. And Michael Jordan had a birthday, albeit a less-celebrated one. This time seven years ago, there was a popular Nike ad that featured an athlete, a smiling child, an old man and a too-cool guy in a designer business suit. LeBron James played each role, as well as the one of the well-respected talent. LeBron is back to that again, and what Kobe Bryant did Sunday night showed that. Then, Bryant defended LeBron in the final minutes of the All-Star Game as if it mattered. … Bryant’s Lakers likely aren’t going anywhere this spring. So Sunday was his one chance to show up LeBron. Bryant did. He defended him as All-Stars rarely do, and his block of LeBron led to a Durant breakaway at the end. Bryant had some of the same body language of a year ago, too. But will this hang on LeBron? Will anyone make fun of him now because of what happened in an exhibition? Times have changed.
  • Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times: Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard were here, so of course there was going to be drama. Howard said Friday that Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak had told him he would remain with the team through Thursday's trade deadline. On Sunday, Bryant said "it doesn't matter" what his team does with the six-time All-Star. "I don't know what they are going to do," Bryant said Sunday at Toyota Center after helping the West defeat the East, 143-138, in the All-Star game. "But at this point ... , it doesn't matter. what matters to us is what we do on Wednesday [against the Boston Celtics] and go from there. "That's the most important thing. That's my message to the team is that you can't worry about the future, you can't worry about the past, you just have to focus on the present and we really have to maximize every single game."
  • K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: In the fourth quarter, he dropped into an intense defensive stance while isolated on Chris Paul, who buried a 3-pointer in his face. Noah responded by accidentally elbowing Paul in the face as he led a fast break. Yep, Noah only knows how to play one way. "I can't half-ass it or else I would really look like (crap) out there," Noah said. Capping a weekend that Noah thoroughly savored and enjoyed, the emotional and energetic leader of the Bulls finished with eight points and 10 rebounds in 16 minutes. He showed no ill effects from the plantar fasciitis in his right foot that has plagued him. But even if Noah's intensity didn't perfectly fit the fan-friendly, glorified exhibition, the Bulls center felt right at home. Roughly 30 friends and family from all parts of his background attended to witness his unlikely ascension. "I haven't slept in three days, and I've enjoyed every minute," Noah said. "There isn't one of my close friends who isn't here. My Pops is here, smiling and proud. It means so much to me."
  • Kyle Veazey of The Commercial-Appeal: His All-Star Weekend concluded and his team set to play again in less than 48 hours, Zach Randolph fielded a logical question here late Sunday night: At what point does he stop thinking All-Star and start thinking Grizzlies? "Man, all weekend," he said, suggesting his team's fight in the middle of the Western Conference playoff pack is never far from his mind. "These days go by fast. It's been a good break but it's a lot of work we had to do, fun weekend, but it's back to work now, the real season." Randolph's place in the All-Star spotlight at the Toyota Center here Sunday night was short-lived. He played just 13 minutes, scoring six points and grabbing five rebounds, over two shifts of playing time. He didn't play in the fourth quarter. Only Lamarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan and Brook Lopez played fewer minutes.
  • Doug Smith of the Toronto Star: The process of staging the NBA’s all-star weekend is elaborate and time-consuming and it’s impossible for things to happen without a huge amount of lead time. Three years in the case of Toronto. According to several sources, Maple Leaf Sports and the Raptors have already begun the process of submitting an official bid to host the 2016 all-star game to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the franchise and to bring one of the league’s most popular events to an international venue for the first time ever. People with knowledge of the hospitality industry in Toronto say league officials have already been in the city making inquiries about hotel availability and convention space.
  • Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer: Believe it or not, Kyrie Irving's All-Star Weekend got off to a shaky start. On the flight from Cleveland last Thursday, some vitamin juice in his luggage spilled all over his white shoes. "So I didn't start off the weekend right," he said. Asked on Friday what he was going to do, he smiled and said, "It's an excuse to get more shoes." He can afford them. Going into the All-Star Game, he'd earned $50,000 for winning the 3-point shootout on Saturday and $10,000 for being on the losing team in the Rising Stars Challenge, although he did finish second to Denver's Kenneth Faried in the MVP voting in that game. He made $25,000 Sunday, but would have doubled that if he had played for the winning team in the West's 143-138 victory. The money, obviously, is nice. But the bump to his reputation is priceless. Even Irving admits he's surprised at the impact he's having in just over one full season in the league.
  • Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: Paul George could have easily deferred on the offensive end of the court during his first All-Star appearance on Sunday. He was playing alongside LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade, some of the premier scorers in the league. He had no interest in doing that. That’s the old Paul George. The new Paul George is about being aggressive offensively. That’s why he didn’t hesitate to shoot and shoot some more during the East’s 143-138 loss to the West squad. George scored 17 points on 7-of-13 shooting, including 3-of-6 from long distance, to go four assists, three rebounds and two steals in 20 minutes off the bench. “I knew if I came out not playing real aggressive, I was going to kind of get lost in the crowd,” George said. “For this to be my first one, I’m very proud of it. We didn’t get the win, but being around guys like KG, that really taught me experience.” East and Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra knows George’s skills, too.
  • Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press: Raptors rookie swingman Terrence Ross already has a challenger for his slam-dunk crown. Pistons rookie Andre Drummond tossed his hat into the ring Friday morning, saying he was hoping to compete in the dunk contest this season before a stress fracture in his lower back ended that dream. "That was my goal to be in the dunk contest," Drummond said. "I can't really do that now, so hopefully next year." Ross won the slam-dunk title Saturday night as part of the NBA's All-Star weekend. Drummond watched from courtside. It isn't clear whether Drummond would have gotten an invite this season, so a little public lobbying can't hurt.
  • Phil Sheridan of The Philadelphia Inquirer: No more updates on Andrew Bynum's, ahem, progress. No more speculating on whether the Sixers should consider a long-term deal with the 7-foot center. No more projecting what Collins' rotation would look like if Bynum was in the middle and everyone else was in the proper spot. There is a time to fish, and the Sixers pulled a big one into the boat last summer. There is a time to cut bait, and Andrew Bynum is chum. Let's cut to the chase and cut our losses here. The Sixers should sit Bynum down, thank him for his tiresome - sorry, tireless - efforts to get on the court, and offer him a plane ticket to the location of his choice. It is time to end the pretense that Bynum is ever going to play center for the Philadelphia 76ers … The franchise took a shot at greatness in trading for Bynum. That's fine, even admirable. It didn't work out, and that cost the Sixers a season. It will cost several more seasons if the men in charge can't recognize reality and choose to double-down on a mistake. The best and easiest way to avoid that is to end the charade immediately. Bye-bye, Bynum. It's been an experience.
  • Bill Oram of The Salt Lake Tribune: Al Jefferson didn’t have big plans for All-Star Weekend. He was going home to southern Mississippi and would see people he wanted to see. Then a tornado struck nearby Hattiesburg. On Saturday, the Jazz center spent his time with people he hadn’t even known. In a video report published online by WDAM-TV in Hattiesburg, Jefferson could be seen visiting families in areas hit hardest by the tornado, which reportedly destroyed or damaged 800 homes. Jefferson grew up in Prentiss, a small town 55 miles from Hattiesburg, a college city of 50,000 people. While no one was killed by the storm, it gutted sections of Hattiesburg. "It took my breath away," Jefferson told the news station. "I’m still kind of amazed just to see all of the damage that was done." So, like Jefferson does when his team’s offense has begun to lag, he decided to do something about it. WDAM reported Jefferson pledged to buy a new car for a teenage girl whose vehicle was destroyed by the tornado.

All-Star Sunday Bullets

February, 17, 2013
McNeill By Andrew McNeill
TrueHoop Network
Did you know Michael Jordan turned 50 today?

• Most of the best All-Star moments in Boston Celtics history happened during the Saturday night festivities, which I guess isn't all that surprising. What is surprising, however, is that a couple of those moments include the slam dunk contest, which is not what I think of when I picture the Celtics.

• Over the past few days the fellas at Hardwood Paroxysm went ahead and profiled all of the players taking part in Sunday night's All-Star Game, because of course they did. As usual, it's worth reading before tonight's tip-off.

• The live blog has been around for quite a while, some of my favorite online basketball pieces over the years have been live blogs of games. Forum Blue and Gold's Phillip Barnett, reporting from Houston, live-blogged Saturday night's festivities complete with video, tweets and analysis. It's worth your time if just to re-watch last night's dunks without having to see all the missed attempts.

The casting in the NBA version of Ocean's 11 is perfect.

• Amidst all the fun and hoopla of All-Star Weekend, Kings people have had to deal with the very real possibility of their team moving to Seattle.

• Over at Sports Illustrated's Point Forward blog, TrueHoop Network alum Rob Mahoney has five things to keep an eye on during tonight's game, including the idea that LeBron James can pull off almost anything you can think of. And probably several things you have yet to imagine.

• Wait, Tim Duncan was actually angry he didn't play enough in an All-Star Game once? That's not the Tim Duncan I know.

• Speaking of the Spurs, Matt Bonner says he was able to overcome having to shoot in the vicinity of Drake and "Nick Cannon from America’s Got Talent" in Saturday night's 3-Point Contest.

• I feel like Gerald Green's dunk and re-dunk was great in theory but poor in execution. He should've dunked first with his off-hand and then followed up with his strong hand, since that was the toughest part of the maneuver. Of course, who am I to criticize attempting to break the laws of gravity?

All-Star Saturday Bullets

February, 16, 2013
Barnett By Phillip Barnett
TrueHoop Network
• Friday night’s Rising Stars Challenge left much to be desired as Team Chuck got out to a mammoth lead early never looked back. The final minutes provided the most entertaining moments, when Kyrie Irving and Brandon Knight engaged in an exchange of crossovers. Irving said the two have been going at it since high school: “[It] just happened, honestly, a couple of plays down, going down the court with him. But more or less, that kind of rivalry with me and B. Knight has been happening since high school, since we started playing against each other. We were battling for the one and two spot in high school. He's a good friend of mine. It's great competition.”

• Actually, Ricky Rubio had a fun night, too.

• Kenneth Faried’s Rising Stars shot chart. Ridiculous.

• The Bobcats’ Michael Kidd-Gilchrist told reporters that Michael Jordan has recently beat him in a game of one-on-one. Jordan turns 50 Sunday, while Kidd-Gilchrist is seven months away from turning 20. "It was hard for me," Kidd-Gilchrist said before playing in the Rising Stars Challenge rookie-sophomore game Friday night. "I lost. He's the greatest man that ever played the game.

James White blocks a kid's shot, stares down another after dunking.

• A lot of Isaiah Thomas’ success in the NBA lies in his self-confidence, something that his father believes he was born with: “I think at his level, where he’s one of the smaller guys, this has to be something that you were born with,” the elder Thomas told Cowbell Kingdom before the Rising Stars Challenge. “A gift from God that just happens to be [that] they chose you Isaiah to take the torch and run with it.”

• Dwyane Wade told reporters that Kobe Bryant is the greatest player of this current era of ball players.

• With Terrence Ross set to compete in tonight’s dunk contest, here’s a history of Toronto Raptors who have also participated in All-Star Saturday Night’s premier event.

• Hardwood Paroxysm’s Jordan White, on James Harden: “If Harden’s Sixth Man of the Year award recognized his mimicry, his All-Star berth recognizes him finding his voice. The player we see in Houston is the one we’d seen glimpses of in Oklahoma City. Freed from the constraints of the bench, Harden has total control of the offense. Perhaps more importantly, he has complete freedom to be himself. As with the “new” writer, we still see traces of Harden’s predecessors in his game, but every shot, every pass, every drive is his own. This is James Harden, realized.”