With an abbreviated set of games this past week ahead of All-Star Weekend, we’re going to do things a little different for the Pinkie’s Monday NBA coverage. Instead of the normal short opinion piece with the UK and UofL updates, I’m going to run down the winners and losers from this weekend’s festivities in LA.
Kobe Bryant/Kevin Durant
With a 37 point, 14 rebound outing in his home building, Kobe was a shoo-in for MVP honors. He had 32 heading into the fourth quarter and with the West holding a double-digit lead, he had all but locked down the award. However, the East rallied behind LeBron James and in the end it was Kevin Durant, not Kobe, that made the big shots to sew up the win.
Durant scored 34, including four threes, but Kobe’s stellar first three quarters and home court advantage were too much to overcome.
I saw a few jokes floating around the Twitter universe about LeBron playing as hard as he did in the All-Star game after his now notorious egg-laying against the Celtics last season in the playoffs. Maybe the jokes were deserved, but LeBron was still fantastic. He had just the second triple-double in the history of the All-Star game with 29 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. If you include “ridiculous open floor plays that make you say ‘wow’” as a statistical category, he actually had a quadruple-double.
The Three Amigos
I was fairly entertained by All-Star game and dunk contest, but the highlight of the weekend for me was, without a doubt, the Rookie-Sophomore game. In fact, I think it was the most I’ve enjoyed watching a non-UK game in a long time. Seeing John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe play together again was really cool, especially with all the highlights they turned in with neither team bothering to play defense.
It was a Big Blue infomercial as Wall set a record with 22 assists in the game and Cousins had 33 points and 14 rebounds. After the game, Wall said that he set out to break Chris Paul’s assist record in the game and was looking to get Cousins the MVP. Wall, though, was just too brilliant. Besides, how could they not give it to him after that bounce pass alley-oop to Blake Griffin. Bledsoe didn’t play as much as his former teammates, but he did turn in a nasty left-handed dunk off a Wall pass.
It was a bit of a coming out party for the sort-of rookie, as he participated in the Rookie-Sophomore game (playing limited minutes), won the dunk contest and played in the main event. The dunk contest was honestly a bit underwhelming, but Griffin had his share of patented ‘wow’ dunks in both games to remind you why he has been one of the stories of the year in the NBA.
Teenage Girls with Bieber Fever
If you watched the abomination that is the NBA’s celebrity game, you know what I’m talking about. Justin Bieber played in the game, scoring eight points but leading the world in high-pitched screams from fans. Even though he was on the same team as Scottie Pippen and Bieber shot just 3-11, Biebs took home MVP honors thanks to some Chicago style ballot box stuffing. And if you were wondering, yes, text message voting was available.
Members of Miami’s Big Three not named LeBron James
Dwyane Wade went down with an ankle injury, aggravating a sprain from last week. Chris Bosh, on the other hand, looked a lot like he does when he plays for the Heat: a bit lost and unsure of his role. Bosh shot pretty well and did score 14 points in just under 21 minutes, but it came time to make a clutch play, he failed to grab a big rebound and decided to shoot a three pointer, which he bricked.
Everybody involved in the Carmelo shenanigans
‘Melo was highly average in the main event with just 8 points and 7 rebounds, while talks of the trade that may or may not happen with the Nets/Knicks dominated much of the conversation all weekend. I’ve been a Carmelo defender most of the year because I think he’s really good, but I am 100% ready for this to be over and done with.
I know it’s kind of iffy to single out a player for a performance in an all-star game, especially a big man, but Derrick Favors was the one guy in the Rookie-Sophomore game who looked like he just did not belong. Playing against very thin competition from the sophomore front line, Favors managed to avoid grabbing a single rebound. He was badly overshadowed, perhaps because of the distraction of the potential ‘Melo trade. It still baffles me that someone could have taken him ahead of DeMarcus Cousins, even with all of Boogie’s supposed issues.
Perhaps the biggest reason for the underwhelming nature of the dunk contest was the way in which it was won. Blake Griffin’s final dunk was a leap and finish over a Kia automobile with a choir singing “I Believe I Can Fly”. It was all about the spectacle (and the car) because dunk was average at best.