This year’s NBA All-Star Game was won by the West, 192-182. As always, numerous wild stats stand out – Anthony Davis threw up 39 shots in 32 minutes, Kevin Durant had a 21-10-10 triple double, and Giannis Antetokounmpo went 14-17 from the field. Davis represented the New Orleans Pelicans admirably in this Louisiana hosted event as the big man totaled 52 points in his MVP-winning performance.
Judging by the final score, it’s profoundly easy to realize that defense wasn’t only optional, it was non-existent. Past NBA All-Star Games typically at least feature a tightened up defensive approach during the fourth quarter as the notion of, you know, winning, comes into play… Not here. I would venture to say that this year’s NBA All-Star Game featured even less defense than usual, and the usual amount isn’t exactly all that noteworthy.
That stated, this game still had its moments. A particularly impressive performer was Russell Westbrook who caught fire on the way to 41 points on 16-26 shooting (7-13 on threes). He and Durant, the constant recipients of borderline insane obsession from the media regarding their relationship, only played briefly together, but there was a second of connection. Soon after Westbrook checked in, he found Durant in the lane who then threw a lob that Westbrook hammered down.
Friends again? Doubtful. But at least they were mature enough to not allow a personal rift to take away from the game (even though many fans would’ve liked to have seen a KD/Russ wrestling match). That early sequence quickly ended the talking point of how the two would handle being on the same team together for the first time since last year’s Western Conference Finals. Of course, being teammates in this setting isn’t much of a supremely personal bond.
Other solid performers in this NBA All-Star Game were Stephen Curry who had 21 points, James Harden who dished 12 assists, and Kyrie Irving who had a 22/14/7 line. Assist numbers weren’t exactly difficult to come by since the defensive gaps in this contest were gargantuan enough to make a crippled elderly man pass the ball like Steve Nash in his prime.
Counting the number of dunks in this game would approach numbers rarely counted to by humans. In other words, there were quite a few dunks. Nearly every play that my eyes witnessed seemed to be a questionable three-pointer or a ferocious jam. The strongest in-game dunker here was “The Greek Freak” as he seemed to possess a level of power reminiscent of a younger LeBron James. Even Klay Thompson had a minimum of two dunks which tells you how simple it was to reach the rim.
Speaking of Thompson, there was a period where he, Curry, Durant, and Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors shared the floor together, something West head coach Steve Kerr previously said he would do. As a lifelong Warriors fan, this was an awesome moment. I remember desperately hoping for a single All-Star in the past, this year featured four.
For the game itself, was this year’s action must-watch television? No. It rarely is. For all the hype that goes into the contest and for how much players seem to care about their selections, the game itself is rarely a masterful display of basketball quality.
However, for a committed NBA fan, it still remains a fun exercise as it was in this case. We got to see the world’s best basketball players all share the floor at the same time, and that alone seems to draw us in even though we know how the game will turn out.