Tag:2012 All-Star Game
Posted on: February 26, 2012 11:58 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2012 12:00 am
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Check that trophy off: Durant wins All-Star MVP

Posted by Royce Young



ORLANDO -- There are certain boxes a player needs to check off while building an all-time resume. And Kevin Durant just pulled out a big red marker.

The 23-year-old superstar has already accomplished quite a lot in his four-plus NBA seasons. He's won two scoring titles. He's been named to the All-Star team three times, twice as a starter. Been named to three All-NBA teams. He's played in the Western Conference Finals. He won the HORSE competition twice in a row. OK, so that last one's not so prestigious.

But now he's got an All-Star MVP. That's a bunch of checks for a guy that only started driving seven years ago.

Durant took home the trophy with a 36-point, seven-rebound, three-assist performance in the West's 152-149 victory over the East in the 2012 All-Star Game in Orlando. He tied with LeBron James for the game-high in points, but taking nine out of 13 possible votes, Durant took home the award.

"It's just exciting to be named an All-Star, but to step it up another level and become MVP, it's only something that as a kid you dream about," Durant said. "Coming from where I come from, I didn't think I would be here. Everything has just been a blessing to me. I'm excited. I'm glad I'm taking this back to Oklahoma City."

It was obvious early on that Durant was serious about this glorified exhibition game. He attacked often, slowed into his gorgeous pull-up game and became the West's offensive focal point. Which is saying something when you're sharing the floor with Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant and Blake Griffin.

Durant had 21 points at the half, 34 at the end of the third quarter and when he checked back in with 7:53 left in the fourth quarter, he had a realistic shot at Wilt Chamberlain's 1962 all-time mark of 42 points in an All-Star Game.

"I didn't know. I didn't know," he said about Chamberlain's mark. "But you know, MVP is something that you want to get in this game, and I'm glad I got it. It made me feel better, all the guys congratulated me. It's just crazy now that I can hoist this trophy."

One thing that helped? Durant's coach, Scott Brooks was leading the Western All-Stars, which meant Durant basically could call his own game. He got a game-high 37 minutes and it was pretty clear that he had an eye on that MVP trophy.

"I wasn’t surprised at all,” he said. “Me and Scotty have been talking about this for a couple of weeks.”

Said Brooks about his golden calf: "He just comes in and does his work. He's a tremendous kid as well as you all know. Off the court, he's classy, he's a special teammate. What he does doesn't surprise me other than he did well at the Three-point Shooting Contest last night. That actually surprised me."

The All-Star Game always has an open feel to it and high point total aren't anything to get excited about. That's just part of it. Players have big games, piling up points on easy dunks, layups and open jumpers. But it does say something about who's getting those looks. It's about who's deferring to who, who's taking control. For instance, with Kobe Bryant on the floor with Durant and the East pulling within a point, it was Durant's running floater that put the West back up three. Durant took the most shots (25) and basically controlled the offense. That's the power of the Durantula -- he pushed the Black Mamba aside and owned the game. Not an easy thing to do.

You can say it was a changing of the guard, a passing of the baton or whatever metaphor you feel like working in, but as Kobe set the all-time mark for points in the game, passing Michael Jordan, Durant took home the MVP and was the West's alpha dog. With three games under his belt, Durant's off to a good start. Bryant sits on 271, Durant 186 shy of that and a lot of years ahead of him.

Said Dwyane Wade, “With KD in the league, I don’t know how long it’s going to last.”

Durant has always preferred to stay humble and quiet about his own other-worldly game, choosing to just let his play do his talking. He's never called himself great, never pointed at anything he's done. And even on one of the NBA's biggest stages after winning one of the game's most prestigious pieces of hardware, he still wouldn't just finally admit he's a real superstar.

"I wouldn't say that yet. Hopefully. Hopefully soon I can say that," he said. "Once I grow old, I can tell my kids that I got an All-Star Game trophy."

Trust me, KD. You're going to be telling your kids about a whole lot more trophies than just that one.
Posted on: February 26, 2012 10:55 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 11:18 pm
 

Kevin Durant wins 2012 All-Star MVP

By Matt Moore 

Kevin Durant won the 2012 NBA All-Star MVP with 36 points on 14-25 shooting, with seven rebounds and three assists Sunday as the West won 152-149. It is his first All-Star MVP and a clear demonstration of the next level Durant is at. You have to wonder if the actual MVP is far behind this season. 

LeBron James also had 36 but turned the ball over on the final possession out of a double-team. Because, really, you knew that had to happen for us to have something stupid to write about tonight.

Posted on: February 26, 2012 10:15 pm
 

Video: LeBron-Wade oop madness at ASG

By Matt Moore 

There's a reason I refer to the Heat from time to time this season as a flying death machine. It's because of things like this. From NBAHighlightsHQ on YouTube:

 


Behind-the-back-to-Wade-one-touch-b
ack-to-James-alley-oop-oh-dear-enjo
y-the-show.
Posted on: February 26, 2012 9:38 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 9:57 pm
 

Video: LeBron goes cradle-rock windmill at ASG

By Matt Moore 

LeBron put on a show (not as good of one as Kevin Durant) at the All-Star Game and showed why everyone was so irritated he missed the dunk contest for the third year in a row. This time it was a modified switch-hand, cradle-rock windmill. You know. Run of the mill stuff. 

 

So he's got that going for him.
Posted on: February 26, 2012 9:29 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 10:25 pm
 

Kobe passes Michael Jordan as top All-Star scorer

Kobe Bryant became the all-time leader in points in the All-Star Game Sunday. (Getty Images)

Posted by Royce Young


ORLANDO -- Kobe Bryant can check another milestone off his list. And it's his favorite kind of milestone -- the kind where he moves past Michael Jordan in something.

In the second half of the 2012 All-Star Game, Kobe passed Jordan for first all-time in total points in the All-Star Game with a dunk late in the third quarter to give him 263 points. He passed Oscar Robertson (246 points) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (251) earlier in Sunday night's game.

Bryant, a 14-time All-Star (tied most all-time) and a four-time All-Star MVP, entered the game with 244 points, 18 behind Jordan's all-time mark of 262. Jordan's career-high in an All-Star Game was 40 in 1988. Kobe's was 37 in 2011.

Jordan played in 13 All-Star games, and Kobe's 13th as well. Both were selected to 14.

Kobe's career resume continues to grow to ridiculous proportions. He became the fifth leading all-time scorer earlier this season and with his All-Star appearances, titles (five), an MVP and all the rest he has in his pocket, it's pretty easy to build a top 10, if not top five case for Bryant.


Posted on: February 26, 2012 2:02 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 2:06 pm
 

Players react to Saturday's dunk contest

Posted by Royce Young

It might've been the worst dunk contest ever. Still up for debate probably. But one thing is for sure: The consensus on the 2012 Dunk Contest was not positive. Fans actually booed some in the arena and for the most part it created very little buzz, if any. There were a few highlights, but for the most part, it was disappointing.

Kevin Durant's voiced his desire to get some bigger names in the contest. But how did other players react? Here's a compilation of some notable player tweets:
































Posted on: February 26, 2012 12:16 am
Edited on: February 26, 2012 1:27 am
 

Dunk Contest Report Card: Bottom heavy

Posted by Royce Young

Jeremy Evans basically won the dunk contest with one dunk.

ORLANDO -- You know things didn't go all that well for the Dunk Contest when it was up for discussion if the Three-Point Contest was more exciting.

It started painfully slow with highly orchestrated dunks and then picked up a little momentum in the second round of dunks. But then fizzled at the end with a dead arena throwing a smattering of boos out when Jeremy Evans had his name called as the winner.

It was left up to a fan vote this season and more than three million cast their votes, and Evans gathered 29 percent. After it finished, some were looking for a fifth option: "E, none of the above." But still, let's grade it out.

Jeremy Evans' double oop Easily the dunk of the night. With Gordon Hayward sitting on a stool, he threw two basketballs up for Evans to dunk -- over the top of him. He missed the first attempt, which was to be expected with that degree of difficulty. It had the looks of the kind of dunk he'd miss five or six times and then give up on, but Evans nailed it on his second attempt, soaring over Hayward. It was good enough that despite two other fairly meh dunks, Evans won the contest.
Derrick Williams off-the-side-of-the-backboard It's been done before, but with Ricky Rubio assisting, Williams pulled off a finish with an extremely high degree of difficulty. Rubio tossed the ball off the side of the backboard and Williams pulled an inverted 360. It was impressive mostly because it looked like Williams had no shot at finishing it, but he stretched out and got it. Bonus points for the giant smile on Rubio's face too.
Paul George as a human glowstick Combining creativity with style is the way to go. And George pulled it off well. He came out wearing and all yellow Pacers uniform, but asked for the lights to be turned off. When they went down, he lit up like a glowstick. He used a quality 360 dunk, and did it in the dark.
Chase Budinger and "White Men Can't Jump"
The first dunk of the night set the tone a bit as a long intro, with Diddy, set up Budinger. Diddy said his favorite basketball movie was "White Men Can't Jump" and that's when Budinger appeared wearing a snapback hat and big t-shirt. He jumped over Diddy, which wasn't all that cool, but seeing as Budinger was, uh, different than the other contestants, it was clever.
George jumps a giant Jumping over someone in a dunk contest is a pretty played out move, but leaping a 7-2 guy is going to be impressive no matter what. George brought out teammate Roy Hibbert with the original plan being Dahntay Jones standing in front to throw a lob. After it failed twice, George just took control and went over the top.
Evans gets a delivery
I can appreciate giving a nod to your franchise's past, but the jersey tribute thing is pretty played. Evans got a special delivery from comedian Kevin Hart who was dressed as a mailman. The delivery? A jersey of The Mailman, Karl Malone. Evans put it on and dunked over Hart, who is probably 4-foot-5, or something close to it.
Williams jumps the shark True story: On Friday night I saw a motorcycle under the arena and joked to someone that it was probably a prop for this year's dunk contest. So you can imagine the surprise when it was actually rolled out for Williams to jump over. I don't think it could be said better than ESPN.com's John Hollinger: "Maybe they should just have an actual shark for this Derrick Williams dunk."
Budinger goes blindfolded
Paying homage to a Cedric Ceballos dunk, Budinger blindfolded himself. He sold it pretty well faking the first attempt with a horrible miss and then had the crowd count his steps on the second try. He ended up making a reserve two-handed dunk but we'll never know if he was actually blind. And it definitely didn't make anyone say "OOOHHH!!!" which is kind of what you need.
Budinger's average windmill
New rule: You shouldn't use a pregame warmup dunk in the dunk contest. The slow motion replay made it look a little bit better, but it was still a pretty average finish. And he missed it on the first two tries.
George uses a sticket of Larry Bird The sticker schtick isn't new, and it's bad when you have to have extra stickers on hand. Because George missed his dunk using a sticker of Larry Bird's face five times. He had a backup sticker, but after that, he just started slapping the backboard. Degree of difficultly was high and the dunk itself was impressive, but mulitple misses plus the sticker thing were bad.
Williams' miss-it-a-lot dunk Nothing is worse than someone missing a dunk over and over and over. Williams ended up going 1-for-8 with an off-the-backboard between-the-legs attempt and with each miss, it got exponentially more awkward. But the end, he just gave up on it as the clock started ticking down.
Evans first person point of view dunk Oh my. Gimmick dunks can work, but that one was just a bad idea from the start. It required a replay to be appreciated and the dunk itself was something you wouldn't even take notice of in a game. You knew it was sad when Evans tried to pull himself up on the rim to make it look better. Tell-tale sign a dunk was lame.

Posted on: February 25, 2012 12:54 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2012 1:59 pm
 

Bynum would like the ball more in crunch-time

Andrewy Bynum says he could use the ball more in close games. (Getty Images)
Posted by Royce Young

ORLANDO -- The Los Angeles Laker offense has been something of an enigma. Three All-Stars in the starting five, two of the most dominant bigs in the game and a Hall of Fame guard that is fifth all-time in scoring, while leading the league this season in points per game.

But the offense ranks 16th in offensive efficiency with 103.0 points per 100 possessions and 22nd in points per game with just 93.1 a night. Not great. But as average as the offense has been as a whole, it's gotten worse in crunch time situations. Scoring becomes a chore for the Lakers the last five minutes of a game.

"Crunch-time has been tough for us," center Andrew Bynum said Saturday. "Because we're not moving the ball, not playing the same style of basketball that got us where we were at. And really, that has a lot to do with the coaches and just kind of getting people in the spots that are going to make them successful."

It's a little hard to really decipher what Bynum meant there. He said that with a casualness that doesn't suggest that he's throwing blame at Mike Brown and his staff, but he did say that not moving the ball and playing the same style as the first 45 minutes of a game "has a lot to do with the coaches."

Obviously the Laker crunch-time offense runs directly through No. 24, but maybe it should feature Bynum a bit more. He's having one of his most productive seasons yet and is starting as an All-Star. He's averaging career-highs in points and rebounds per game and is shooting 54.4 percent from the field. So does he want the ball a little more late in games? But that means prying it from the cold dead hands of Kobe.

"If I'm doing good things with my touches, I just have to get the ball," Bynum said. "Actually, the team tried to get me going late in the game [against Oklahoma City Thursday]. They started to feed me the ball and that was great."

Bynum's referencing the fourth quarter against the Thunder in which he scored on back-to-back possessions, one a big dunk and the other a low block hook. After that, Kendrick Perkins checked back in to defend Bynum and the Laker big only saw one more touch as the Lakers struggled to stop OKC and score to keep pace, eventually losing by 15.

The Lakers had a players only meeting earlier that week that seemed to help though, Bynum said. The team responded with a big win in Dallas the night after. Question is, how long will that good mojo last?

"I think it will definitely carry over," Bynum said. "We have guys on our team that can play at a high level. It's just believing we can do that."

Bynum had a scheduled injection in his knee on Friday and sat out the West's practice on Saturday with a towel wrapped around his right knee. But it was all planned and he is expected to play in the game Sunday. Which means he'll be starting opposite of Dwight Howard, who has rumors swirling all around him right now. One being that he'll end up a Los Angeles Laker. What does Bynum think of that possibility?

"It would be great. We should get all three guys and nobody would ever score inside," he said. "We already have twin towers and that would just be like the same sort of thing. High-low action and I think our defense would be... crazy."
 
 
 
 
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