The NBA’s 66th annual All-Star Game had a lead up like none other.
The biggest headline entering the game was how would Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant react to being on the same team once again. The second headline, stemming from this, was whether Steve Kerr would play his four Warrior all stars at the same time with Westbrook to create some real controversy. And finally, as with any All-Star Game, many were wondering if each team would finally eclipse that 200 point mark that each had come close to attaining in last year’s game.
The answer to the first headline came in the second quarter when Russ entered the game, and KD stayed in, a moment the TNT announcers made sure to harp on. Although they only shared the court together as teammates again for only one minute and twenty-seven seconds, this moment came to its peak with one play.
After a rebound, Westbrook took the ball up the court and hit a passing Durant who was flashing to the left post. They then executed a give and go that we had seen so many times before, but this time seemed the most refreshing. KD threw a perfect alley-oop to Westbrook who then flushed it down with two hands and publicly acknowledged Durant in a positive way with a point and a smile.
This moment was capped when the team returned to the bench after a timeout and the other players celebrated the play by surrounding both players, jumping up and down and even showering them with some water to celebrate.
In regards to the second big headline, that, unfortunately for fans, never saw the light of day. Although the Warriors did all play together at a period of time, they were joined by Anthony Davis instead of Westbrook.
The third headline, almost saw the light of day as the West defeated the East 192-182.
It didn’t quite match the 197-192 shootout of last year’s game, but it did offer some record breaking performances.
Anthony Davis, who was tabbed as the host of All-Star weekend as the game was played in his home arena in New Orleans, set an all-star game record by scoring 52 points in a game that never heard of the word defense.
From the jump, it was clear that getting Davis the MVP was the main focus for the Western Conference squad. Alley-pop after alley-pop was thrown his way, to the tune of 20 dunks in the game just by himself. Not to be outdone, Westbrook, who had won the All-Star Game MVP the past two years, poured in 41 more points, to make his case for the award. Had he not had a stretch in the first quarter where he missed three straight dunks, he would have also had a shot at eclipsing the 50 point mark along with Davis.
On the East side of things, leading vote-getter LeBron James extended his all-star game career points record by adding 23 points in 19 minutes, including a couple of threes from near half court. The first time all-star Giannis Antetokounmpo stole the show for the East as scored 30 points including many rim-rattling dunks filled with windmills, alley-oops and the possible play of the night where he to putback back and dunked it right over top of Steph Curry who was going for the rebound.
Like many All Star games in recent memory, there was minim defense being played which made for an entertaining, but redundant game, save the KD-Russ moment and some high-flying jams that you couldn’t help but get excited over.
Usually, once the fourth quarter hits, the team’s usually ratchet up the defensive intensity and competitiveness sets in where you really try to win the game. This year, there was none of that as each team continued to focus on the dunks and three pointers and paid no attention to even trying to stop it. This is why, for me, Davis’ 52 points was a little skewed because 20 uncontested dunks, no matter how fantastic they look, will allow any player to dominate a game of this magnitude.
This is what the game has become though, ultra offensive, almost to the point where the lack of defense makes the offense become played out and you’re waiting for the game to end. Despite that, it was still filled with sins great moments and headlines which made it worth the while for fans overall.
How did you feel about this year’s All-Star Game? Let’s talk about it here or find me on Twitter @Phenombc3.