The NBA celebrated and recognized this season’s All-Stars after getting together for the All-Star game and skills competition over the weekend in New Orleans’ Smoothie King Center.
It was another less-than-impressive All-Star game and weekend. Like what’s been seen in most professional sport’s All-Star games of recent, there was an obvious lack of competitiveness by both teams and competitors.
Saturday’s skills competitions started off a little slow. In the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, the big men were trying to prove themselves once again after Minnesota Timberwolves’ Karl Anthony-Towns won it last year. In the final round for the big men, the New York Knicks’ Kristaps Porzingis barely beat out Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic. For the guards, it was Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz edging out Boston Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas. In the final round of the skills competition, Porzingis and Hayward faced off and Porzingis, “the unicorn” won it again for the big men, showing the NBA just how versatile the 7’ 3” Latvian is.
In the JBL Three-Point Contest, defending champion Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors was looking to regain his title, but faltered in the first round. Eric Gordon of the Houston Rockets and Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving took full advantage over Thompson’s mishap, outscoring him and meeting in the final round for a head-to-head matchup.
Gordon scored 21 points in the final tiebreaker round after Irving, who shot before him, finished with 18. He’ll be taking the three-point trophy back to Houston with him and it was well deserved: Gordon is shooting threes at a .385 percent clip, averaging over nine points per game by way of the three.
The last event Saturday was the Verizon Slam-Dunk Contest. Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic, last year’s runner up to the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Zach LaVine in the dunk contest, was the favorite to win seeing as there were those who thought he should have won it last year. While bringing a drone out to hover over the court and drop the ball to him was creative, not being able to complete the dunk on his first several tries really hurt him.
In the Finals of the slam-dunk competition, Glen Robinson III of the Indianapolis Pacers soared passed Phoenix Suns’ rookie Derrick Jones Jr. for the title of NBA dunk champion. Robinson won the contests with a reverse dunk over three people and added a clutch to the dunk for added flair and 50 points. He saved his best dunk for last and it proved to be the winner.
Sunday’s All-Star game was record-setting however, after it was all said and done the two teams put up 374 points, the West won by a score of 192-182. The MVP of the highest scoring NBA All-Star game in league history was the New Orleans Pelicans’ Anthony Davis, who finished with 52 points on 26 of 39 shooting and 10 rebounds. Russell Westbrook also put up big numbers for the West, scoring 41 points on 16 of 26 shooting.
Defense was a hot commodity in the All-Star game, but the scoring and athleticism was fun to watch. The NBA season will pick up again Thursday the 23rd and the home stretch is right around the corner. We’ll see if any teams can make a late-season push, but the good news is playoff basketball is getting closer by the day.