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L.O.N. » Blog Archive » Line Of The Night — 02/12/2010-02/14/2010 — All-Star Extravaganza Edition NBA Basketball

Line Of The Night — 02/12/2010-02/14/2010 — All-Star Extravaganza Edition

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As seen on SLAMOnline:

Line Of The Night:

Dwyane Wade — 28 points, 11 assists,  6 boards, 5 steals, 1 All-Star MVP award

In a game usually defined by offense, it was the defense of D-Wade and Bron that made them the stars of the game, mostly because of the offense to which it led.  The two racked up 9 total steals which led to about 9 (or more?  ANYTHIING is possible in an All-Star game) amazing break-away dunks.  The two had very similar games — easily the most highlightest of the highlighters — but Wade just barely edged out The King statistically, not to mention he completed the All-Star game staple “off glass to your self oop dunk”, to take down the MVP award.  Do not worry, LeBron fans, he will be in contention for the MVP award year-after-year.  His game — and more importantly his personality — is tailor made for this event.  He balls out and has a lot of fun doing it — see his “taunting” of Melo, his back-and-forth with Jason Kidd, and becoming the official “King Of The Two-Handed Reverse Dunk”.

Game Of The Night AKA The Long Arm Of Stan Van Gundy Of The Night:

East 141, West 139

What a game!  The ultimate NBA showcase ended up including just about everything for which a fan could hope.  There was the absolute spectacle of Cowboy Stadium, amazing plays from amazing stars, and a competitive game amongst the world’s greatest athletes.

However, it got off to a very unfamiliar start.  The typical script looks like this — wild and somewhat out-of-control running and gunning for the first half or so, then if the game is still close, settling in to more half-court ball to determine a winner.  But not this year.  Maybe it was the Stan Van Gundy factor (who must have set a record for most timeouts called in an All-Star game) or maybe it was the “wonderment” factor with players entranced by their epic surroundings, or maybe he was all the first-time All-Stars, but right away this was a hard fought game.  There were set plays.  There were lots of fouls called.  There was a back-and-forth battle in the post between Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol.  It was probably not until the 3rd quarter until things really opened up.

That is not to say there was not a lot of fun.  There were a ton of spectacular alley oops (best oop passer for the game?  Rondo.  Best finisher?  Probably Dwight Howard on a spectacular reach-back one-handed finish in the third quarter), and surprisingly few failed alley oops.  And of course, there were just plain fun individual sequences:  Dwight Howard shooting (and making 1) a couple 3’s after which we were half-surprised Van Gundy did not stop the game and yank him!,  Howard grabbing a rebound and going coast-to-coast for the slam,  LeBron’s previously detailed shenanigans, D-Wade’s own aerial show, and CHRIS KAMAN IN THE HOUSE!!!

In the final quarter, it looked like maybe the West was falling into the same trap the Sophomores did on Friday night with their size becoming an obstacle in keeping up with the speed of the East, but then Chauncey Billups decided it was not over.  He shot them right back into it, and we had a “barn barner” (word to Charles Barkley) on our hands.

The end game?  Well, let’s just say it was disappointing.  Several bonehead fouls (just how long did you party on Saturday night, Deron?) and poor execution rounded the game out before hometown hero Chris Bosh iced it for the East with two free throws.  All-in-all, though, it was a great show.

Other game notes:  Hopefully this was the first of many All-Star appearances for Rajon Rondo.  He might have had the highest excitement-per-minute ratio of anyone…  Sorry, but David Lee was exposed.  He is not All-Star caliber, no matter what kind of D’Antoni-inflated stats he can put up…  It is weird, we know, but wasn’t it hard to tell the difference between Chris Kaman and Jason Kidd when they were on the court at the same time?… Derrick Rose definitely did not wilt under the big lights.  He did not find much success, but he was definitely not shy out there… If LeBron was holding a personal try out in the last two minutes to find his next big man teammate, Chris Bosh probably failed by botching an easy oop, and Amar’e might have one himself a spot by locking LeBron up on D… Come on George Karl.  You promise us the 4 point guard lineup, and you don’t deliver?…

Beast Of The Night:

DeJuan Blair — 23 boards, 22 points, 4 assists, 1 unofficial Rookie Challenge MVP award

Tyreke Evans officially won the MVP award but in the face of arena-wide “M-V-P!” chants for Blair, he graciously shared the award with his big fella.  Only a Spur would and could dirty-work his way to stealing the show in an All-Star game.  He did manage to add a little glitz to the show, though.  At one point, right on the heels of the announcers discussing his missing his ACLs, he pulled off a couple classic All-Star moves.  First, he executed a sick breakaway self-pass-off-the-backboard dunk, and then immediately followed that with the always fun “big man clanged 3-pointer”.

The quartet of Evans, Blair, Brandon Jennings and James Harden led the Rookies to a win, marking the first time since 2002 that the Sophomores lost.  Russell Westbrook — who went for a game-high 40, 6 points shy of his teammate Kevin Durant’s record of 46 in this game — seemed like he was leading the Sophs to a second half comeback, but they never figured out how to stop the smaller and quicker (AKA more All-Star ready) Rooks.

Worst Of The Night:

How do you get a trainwreck going in the right direction?  Try this:  1)  Setup a cow-roping game as a gimmick, court-side at an NBA All-Star event.  2)  Have the first participant be Chris Paul… on crutches!?!?!?  What????  3)  Have the first celebrity introduced be… oh?  what’s that?  You have no celebrities in the Celebrity Game?  Check.  Train officially wrecked.

This thing is brutal.  While it’s always been ridiculous, an event like this does have slight potential to be entertaining, and actually used to be — remember when Chris Brown dunked on Bow Wow (okay, not quite, but that’s how myths grow)?  ESPN has taken this event and absolutely run it into the ground.  Bad celebs, bad basketball, bad announcing (Mark Jones quotes:  1) “Common’s one of the best R&B acts going” 2)  “Terrence J, one of the top video jocks in the country” — could you sound any more out of touch?  And that’s your “hip” announcer”?), bad jokes, rigged MVP award.  A-W-F-U-L.

Only two things happened that gave this redeeming value:  1)  Seeing Jon Barry STEAMING after taking a bucket of water to the face.  If he would just let it go and take Mike Breen out… let’s just say there would be no complaints from L.O.N. if both of those guys were never on TV again.  2)  Common, delayed by weather, entering the game ala Derek Fisher and balling.  He was the obvious MVP, but Remi won it as part of some lame promotional storyline ESPN was trying to play up.
H.O.R.S.E. Of The Night:

Kevin Durant successfully defended his title — this time actually receiving a LEGIT trophy — in a contest that is still going through some growing pains.  On the positive side, at least this thing was moved onto a real court, and given more of an overall sense of legitimacy.  The main problem though, is that the TNT guys seemed to be the stars of the show, when it should be about the players.  We need some personalities in this thing — either guys already familiar with each other, or guys with out-sized personalities.  So next year, maybe bring in Russell Westbrook and Brandon Jennings to challenge KD?  Also, the guys need to do at least a little prep work and thought about their shots.  Creativity was a little low.  We did like the fan-submitted shot, so maybe there is potential to integrate that more.  Finally, the end-game was a complete debacle.  So you are telling us that in order to save time, you are going to have PROFESSIONAL SHOOTERS repeatedly fire from the same spot, shot after shot?  That being said, it was still surprising how well Rondo shot.  Now the Ray Allen trade rumors make more sense, as it seems Danny Ainge has somehow stolen Allen’s soul and noetically infused it into Rondo’s body… so teams will actually be receiving Zombie Allen, should they complete a trade.  All-in-all it was a good show, though, and should only get better with a few tweaks.

Other notes:  Now if Omri Casspi had required the other two to duplicate his shooting form on each shot, he might have run away with the thing… Barley was sweating like a H.O.R.S.E. up in there… Can’t believe KD let the ref talk about his momma like that:  “Okay, behind your mom”…

All-Star Saturday Night — The Opening Acts Of The Night:

We are self-admitted All-Star junkies.  We LOVE the Skills Challenge.  We LOVE the Shooting Stars.  Yes, we have never met anyone that shares these feelings with us… so we can’t even join a support group!  Skills Challenge Anonymous, are you out there?

The best part about Shooting Stars this year?  No Derek Fisher.  He’s the L.O.N. anti-christ and we take a definite less-is-more attitude with him.  We did not like the idea of mixing — and even completely fudging (a current NY Liberty playing on team Sacto?) –  teams to complete the squads this year though.  Clippers and Lakers working together for the good of mankind?  Rockets and Mavs and Silver Stars all on the same squad (although the more Becky Hammon, the better)?  It worked out from a competitive standpoint though, as supersquads were created.  The LA and Texas squads were beasts.  LA’s slight weak link — Pau Gasol from 3 — was eventually exposed, as the Texas team took down the title behind the shooting of Dirk, Kenny Smith and Hammon.

Wow, looks like there is more to say about the Shooting Stars than the Skills Challenge?  Basically Steve Nash, almost effortlessly, showed the young fellas how to do this thing, with a couple near-perfect runs.  Deron Williams gave him a run for his money, but had a major hiccup at one of the passing stations to derail his hopes.   In the first round, Brandon Jennings had a similar performance, looking like he was about to set the record, before getting murdered at the long-range pass station.  If he locks that one down, the title may be his next year.

Here is all you need to know about the 3-Point Contest — Darrell Dawkins’ silk Japanese kimono-style suit coat!  Okay, not really, but that thing had to get some L.O.N. shine.  This thing turned out to be a pretty good battle, but the announcers had everyone confused by saying Paul Pierce and Chauncey Billups were in a shootout to reach 2nd round, when in actuality, Pierce, Billups and Stephen Curry were all advanced to the 2nd round.  So when Peezy started wildly celebrating with KG, we thought it was strange that he was doing that before his final shooting round.  Then we figured out he won the thing… then were equally confused when he declared himself “one of the greatest shooters ever”.  Dazed by the suit coat, confused by the events thereafter.

All-Star Saturday Night — The Main Event Of The Night:

Ya’ll can dwell on the wackness if you want, but we will just focus on the dopeness.  Word to Jonathan Levine.  In our opinion, DeMar Derozan was robbed… or maybe he robbed himself?  His first three dunks were pretty sick — especially the off the side of the backboard joint — but his last dunk was weak — a non-challenging running windmill.  Basically, if he had ended on a higher note, he probably takes down the title.  And he promised a Michael Jackson Thriller tribute… where did that go?  That could have provided some much needed theater.  Either way, we hope DeMar is back next year.  Nate Robinson’s dunks were nice when viewed in and of themselves, but his problem was his past theatrics.  He simply did not live up to them.  If this had been the first time we saw the little guy throw them thangs down?  NASTY.  But he has done better in the past.  Congrats to the 3-time champ, though.

So everyone calm down.  Sure, it was a down year, but this thing will be back.  It’s all about finding the right person, at the right time, so a little bit of luck will always be involved.  Maybe it will be the inclusion of some hungry-ass D-Leaguer or college guy, or maybe even a current NBAer we are not even thinking about.

Chuckisms Of The Night:

“Why don’t we put a deer in the dunk contest, then?”

Responding to Kenny Smith’s repeated declaration that athletes win dunk contests.  And this whole time, we thought day laborers won dunk contests.

“When one of your friends shows up white when he’s a black, I mean you gotta take that personally, don’t you?”

Speaking on Sammy Sosa.  Hilarious.

While Cheryl MIller was announcing the winner of the Dunk In, in, let’s just say, a very exuberant manner, Barkley started to talk, not realizing he was on the mic.  He did not finish his thought, but we are pretty sure he was about to clown Cheryl.  The Chuckster’s Manifest Destiny was almost complete.

Finally, during the All-Star game pre-game show, he let Ernie, Mark Cuban and David Stern for talking so much about the upcoming labor negotiations.  Tell ‘em why you mad, Chuck!

Eat Your Breakfast Of The Night:

Hey Gallo, so you liked that Israeli Salad I served you up a few days ago?  Well, how about some labneh, borekas and a halvah sampler this time?  EAT YOUR BREAKFAST AND PAY FOR THE SINS OF MUSSOLINI!

Announce-In Of The Night:

Forget the boooorrrrrrr-iinng Dunk-In during the Rookie Challange, how about the “Announce-In” betwen Dwight Howard, Nate Robinson and Pau Gasol — all guest announcers during the game.  Howard started off as a seeming natural — he has announcer-talk down pat, and provides comic relief with his impersonations (he did Stan Van Gundy and Barkley) and nicknames (calling James Harden Mose and describing one of his made 3’s as “parting the net”).  However, he ended up sounding like a video game announcer with VERY limited recorded phrases, repeating the same things over and over and over and over again.  Then Robinson (our winner) got on the M-I-C and really brought the players perspective with some good Xs-and-Os talk and specific insight on players.  Pau was good too though, especially describing the specifics of day-to-day life playing as a European pro and the differences in high school level ball and players.

Trade Of The Night:

Dallas gets:

Caron Butler
Brendan Haywood
DeShawn Stevenson

Washington gets:

Josh Howard
Drew Gooden
Quinton Ross
James Singleton

Pretty easy to break this down.  Dallas gets tougher and deeper for the stretch run, and the Wizards start their second firesale of the past 10 years.  We do not know if this is enough to position the Mavs as a clear challenger to the Lake Show, but it sure looks nice on paper.  Haywood gives you outstanding interior D, as well as the ol’ Carolina championship good luck charm that so many NBA teams have utilized in the past.  Tough Juice gives you another clutch player that can create their own shot.

Terry Lewis and Jimmy Jam ARE All-Star Weekend… Rick Fox and Nancy Lieberman = unstoppable tandem…  DRIZZY!  ESPN put him on the track, but didn’t let him sing the hook!  Use your stars, ESPN!… Terrence J should be banned from life…  Just when you thought it was not possible, Craig Sager next-leveled it during the Rookie Challenge with that carpet/curtain/upholstery/wallpaper combo suit…  Ricky Rubio’s name came up during the Rookie game, and damn — regardless of how good he is night in and night out, he is going to be INSANE in the Rookie Game… Chris Kaman IS All-Star Weekend!… Brandon Jennings brings back the Gumby, and shockingly, Kevin McHale had never heard the term.  Robert Parish wasn’t rocking that back in the day?…  Why exactly was there a random guy at the Rookie Game, court-side, wearing a horned Viking helmet?…  Dang, Brook Lopez is even angry in All-Star games!… Dwight Howard makes the Guinness Book Of World Records for “Longest Seated Shot” — He made one sitting down from 3/4 court!… As annoying as Reggie Miller is, DAMN he tries hard.  You cannot say he doesn’t get into it.  We could not help but think it was hilarious how obsessed he was with JerryVision… Want to buy some DVDs?   Aaaeeeeeeeeee!…  If anything, Usher needs to give his PANTS more.  What’s up with all his Capris?  Leather Capris?  Really?… Was Will Ferrell in the Canadian Tenors?…  It was hilarious to us, for some reason, when the camera panned to Tim Duncan during “O Canada”, following the obvious Nash and Bosh shots… We think Kevin McHale gets some sort of residuals every time he utters the phrase “Bully ball”…

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