Durant, Bryant lead West over East in lackluster All-Star Weekend
The buzz and all the hype down in Orlando is all over, the NBA concluded their All-Star weekend on Sunday and further proved that maybe they should tone down a few activities so that it doesn’t become such a bore to watch. Like normal fashion, TNT pumped us up for the newly named Rising Stars challenge, the thrilling Three Point Shoot Out and the exciting Slam Dunk contest, which seems to be a dying breed as it continues to become lamer and repeats of past dunks that lack any new flavors and ideas.
Oregon native and Lake Oswego alumni Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves dethroned reigning three-point champion James Jones of Miami and swatted away Kevin Durant for the title of Three-Point Champion. Love, who had made only 19 three-pointers last season came out on fire and hit key money ball shots and withstood a possible rally from Durant who fell late.
As for the always talked about Slam Dunk contest, this year was watered down as there were no active judges and opted for nation-wide fan cellphone voting and the participants were only allowed three dunks. From a list that consists of the likes of Michael Jordan, Vince Carter, Dwight Howard and Dominique Wilkins, half of this year’s list was full of nobodies that if you asked what team that guy played for, Wikipedia would definitely be used to find the answer. Chase Budinger (Houston Rockets), Jeremy Evans (Utah Jazz), Paul George (Indiana Pacers) and Derrick Williams (Minnesota Timberwolves) filled out the spots and what a bore. The obvious major theme was to dunk over things a la Blake Griffin over a Kia, so Budinger started things off by dunking over rapper P.Diddy and later dunking two-handed but by a blindfold. Evans had a horrible start by completing a dunk while wearing a camera in his headband to give us viewers the feel of actually dunking a basketball. He would have the winning dunk idea of slamming two balls as they were dished by teammate Gordon Hayward. His final was a tribute to Jazz legend Karl “Mailman” Malone, wearing his jersey and dunking a signature move.
George on the other hand did one better than Budinger and not only dunked over two of his Pacer teammates, he leaped over 7 footer Roy Hibbert, using his shoulders as a launching pad to expel him over. His most creative-yet-weird dunk came when the arena shut down the lights and George was decked in a glow-in-the-dark jersey and ball, performing a successful windmill…in the dark.
Rookie Williams out of Arizona changed things up by jumping over a motorcycle (yawn), getting dished to by fellow rookie Ricky Rubio and then dropped his chances of winning by missing his last attempt so much he had to go to a simple two hander with time running out. When it came to voting a champion, Evans won 29% of 3 million votes that were cast by phone, Tweet or online and took home the prize.
The main attraction was of course on Sunday night and it gave fans in Portland something to watch because of the fact that LaMarcus Aldridge was playing. He didn’t step out onto the court until well into the second quarter and hit his first fadaway jumper and a rebound. Aldridge would only see about nine minutes of total action as coach Scotty Brooks gave more playing time to his Thunder stars of Durant and Russell Westbrook. The West once again defeated the East 152-149 and was not much of a competition until the final two minutes. The East who never had a lead in the entire game were led back from 18 points down by LeBron James who was starting to make noise aside from Kobe Bryant and Durant. He had a chance to take the lead with 25 seconds to go but gave the three ball to Deron Williams who threw up an air ball, James got back the possession and wanted to find teammate Dwayne Wade in the corner but Griffin stepped in front and stole it.
Aside of all the high-flying dunks and alley op passes, the actual All-Star game itself was only entertaining in the opening minutes and the final. Here are the final stats:
- Kobe Bryant surpassed Michael Jordan to now hold the most career points in the All-Star Game with 27 points and was scoring nearly everything early.
- Kevin Durant was on fire all night long and unanimously won the MVP of the game with a thunderous 36 points outing.
- Blake Griffin had 22 points and out a million alley oop dunks from teammate Chris Paul and that notable steal the sealed the win for the West.
- Russell Westbrook looked like he really enjoyed himself out there with 21 points.
- Kevin Love scored 17 points and posterized Dwight Howard.
- LaMarcus Aldridge played just ten minutes for 4 points, 1 rebound and 1 assist on 2-5 shooting.
- LeBron James would’ve been named MVP if he hadn’t thrown it away, because the entire second half was his, he had 36 points and 6-8 from beyond the three and some sick dunks.
So there you go. Let’s hope Aldridge had some fun in Orlando and can get some nice few days of rest before facing the Heat on Thursday in Portland.
photos courtesy of nba.com/allstar and nba.com/blazers