Not So Surprising All-Star Game

27 02 2012

The best in the world came to play on Sunday night, and the best players on the best NBA teams showcased what they’re best at – for better or for worse.

On a night in which Kobe Bryant passed Michael Jordan for most points in All-Star game play and many great dunks filled the highlight reel, the Western Conference held off a surging Eastern Conference team, 152-149.

The West jumped out to a 90-69 lead early on in the second half. LeBron James and the rest of his East team, however, would not let the night end without a fight.

Through actual defense and efficient play from James (five three-pointers during this run), the East made it a 150-149 game with 22 seconds left in the game.

After Kobe Bryant split his free throws, the East had their chance to give Orlando an exciting ending to their eventful weekend. With the way LeBron had played during the second half, it would make since for James to take the last shot.

Tom Thibodeau initially drew up a three-point play for Deron Williams, which made sense since he was 4-6 from behind the line prior to this play. After hitting the front rim on this shot, D-Will grabbed his own rebound and gave it to the man that should have had the ball in the first place – the King.

The pressure was on him as the game came closer and closer to a finish.

6…5…4…3…2…

Turnover. James decided to try an odd pass across the court that was easily stolen by Blake Griffin. He (yet again) passed up the chance to take the last shot of the game, and it cost his team the game.

This look on these stars' faces looks oddly familiar...

I understand this is a silly All-Star Game and no one should really cares about “crunch time.”

Yet, if you listened to LeBron in his post game interview with Craig Sager about how the game finished, he was upset. He cared. He knew he messed up.

“When I tried to throw it late, that’s what usually happens and it results in a turnover,” James said. “Definitely wish I could have that one back.”

Aside from LeBron pulling a LeBron at the end of this game, this game had the Thunder and the Heat showing the country just why they are currently tied for the best record in the league.

As I just described, King James had quite a game. His 36 points, seven assists and six rebounds helped his team get back in this game. This is definitely his scene to display his high-flying plays as he might have actually outdid Griffin in regards to dunks.

When he entered back into the game at the seven minute mark of the fourth quarter, the intensity level for his squad clearly increased. If only he could have made the play when it counted…

Dwyane Wade might have had the quietest triple-double – ever. He had 24 points on only 15 shots to go along with 10 rebounds and 10 assists. He joins Michael Jordan and teammate LeBron James as the only players to record a triple-double in an All-Star Game.

The King might be the best basketball player in the world right now, but it can’t be ignored that the Flash knows how to play and knows how to play fairly well. Compared to last year’s All-Star game, the chemistry between these two has greatly increased… something the rest of the league doesn’t like to see.

Don’t forget about the two guys from that other team with a 27-7 record…

Finally receiving an award for all the scoring he does, Kevin Durant won the All-Star Game MVP because of his pure scoring. Durantala (anybody else think this nickname is a little forced?) put in 36 points and grabbed seven boards.

With Carmelo Anthony’s struggles this year, I might have to proclaim Durant as the purest scorer in the NBA. It seems to be effortless when he drains a three-pointer, pulls up for a mid-range jumper or takes it all the way to the hole for an easy dunk with his long arms. This kid has already put in 9076 points in only four and a half seasons, and I don’t see him slowing down any time soon.

If a Sixth Man Award was given on this night, Russell Westbrook would have easily received this award.

In 28 minutes, Westbrook wowed the crowd with multiple rim-shaking dunks (please be in the Dunk Contest next year Rus…) to help give him 21 points off the bench. Grabbing five offensive boards, he tied Dwight Howard for most offensive rebounds in the game.

I’m convinced – Westbrook is the most athletic point guard in the NBA. A freak of nature best describes him, and he shows why that is night in and night out no matter the situation.

Even though many still doubt Westbrook and Durant’s ability to work together (including myself), they showed why they have a knack for winning and are the highest scoring duo in the NBA. These men know how to put the ball in basket, and as long as they can establish an understanding regarding how end of games will go down between the two of them, their team should be considered the favorite in the West right now.

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Dwight Howard was practically the host for this entire weekend in Orlando. He attended all the events and had a part in each one. The role of “host” fit perfectly for Howard as his big personality and smile made the weekend that much better. When it was time for him to suit up, D12 forgot to change his mindset.

Shooting four three-pointers (don’t even ask if he made any of them), joking around the entire time and not even attempting to look as if he cared, I couldn’t help but feel sad for the Orlando fans that had to watch their franchise player take this game for granted.

Howard won’t be in Orlando much longer. Whether he is gone by March 15 at the trade deadline or during this next offseason, Magic uniforms with “Howard” and “12” on the back will soon be going on sale. So, this might be one of the last times this beautiful arena gets to cherish their big man. Instead of giving them a performance that would be remembered even after he is gone, the only thing fans will remember is him ducking out of the way as Westbrook continually slammed the ball into the hoop.

Sorry Orlando, your big man didn’t show up on Sunday, and you all might as well treasure every game this season you get to see him in a Magic uniform. There won’t be many more.

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