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Kobe Bryant flirted with one of the best scoring nights in All-Star Game history. LeBron James joined the rarefied air reserved for Michael Jordan. But in the end, it was too much Kevin Durant down the stretch.
Durant scored 14 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter as the Western Conference withstood a furious Eastern Conference fourth quarter run and held on for a 148-143 win in the 2011 All-Star Game.
Kobe Bryant nabbed his fourth All-Star Game MVP by scoring a game-high 37 points and grabbing 14 boards in front of the Staples Center crowd. He tied former St. Louis Hawks F/C Bob Pettit for most All-Star MVP nods.
"It feels great," Bryant told TNT's Ernie Johnson afterward. "Playing at the home court in front of the home crowd. This will be my last All-Star Game in front of the home fans, so it feels good."
Bryant's Western Conference team nearly blew a double-digit fourth quarter lead. After Dwyane Wade was sidelined with an ankle injury, Atlanta Hawks representative Joe Johnson was finally given a chance for extended minutes in this one. He ratcheted up the defensive pressure on Bryant.
With the Atlanta shooting guard posting up on the Los Angeles Lakers superstar and James assisting at times with the double-team, Bryant had just three points in the fourth quarter. Johnson absolutely abused Bryant, stealing the ball and converting with a bucket on the other end of the floor to cut the lead to 137-131 with 3:32 left in the game.
Johnson finished with 11 points, three steals, two rebounds and two assists in 20-plus minutes of action.
The East trailed by as many as 15 midway through the fourth before James lit a fire under the team during a time out. He implored the team to get back into the game. They responded to at least make it close.
"We all want to win," James told TNT's David Aldridge. "Guys know that. You just try to spark up the competitive nature in everybody. I said a few words and tried to spark it up a little bit and guys were like, 'you're right, let's pick it up.'"
The East responded.
Behind a 14 point fourth-quarter from James and 15 in the frame from the New York Knicks' Amare Stoudemire, the Eastern Conference chipped away at the lead, cutting it to 142-140 on a James layup with 1:12 left.
With Johnson in his face, Bryant misfired on the ensuing possession, but teammate Pau Gasol was there for the rebound to extend the West's lead back to four before Chris Paul extended the cushion to 146-140 with a pair of free throws with 18.9 seconds remaining.
Ray Allen followed with a 3-pointer to make it a possession game, but Durant nailed two from the charity stripe with 5.2 ticks left for the final margin of victory.
The West won on their "home" court. Although the question of who would be named the All-Star Game MVP nod was not a fait accompli. Bryant, who finished five points shy of Wilt Chamberlain's All-Star Game record 42 point night in 1962, had some stiff competition for the MVP honor.
James finished with 29 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists to notch the second triple-double in All-Star Game history. Jordan had 14 points, 11 boards and 11 helpers in the 1997 All-Star Game.
Durant helped the West stay ahead in the game with a monster fourth quarter. But in the end, the MVP trophy remained in Tinseltown.
"(Kobe) deserved (the MVP)," Durant told TNT's Craig Sager. "(Scoring) 37 (points) and 14 (rebounds), that's unbelievable numbers. I wanted him to get 40 (points), but the old guy tired out a little bit."
Stoudemire had 29 points, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat chipped in 14 each for the East. Gasol had 17, while Russel Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder added 12 for the Western Conference. Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers finished with eight points, five rebounds and five assists.
Overshadowed amongst the stars was Atlanta's Al Horford, who notched two points, three rebounds and a block in just 10:20 of action. Only the Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce spent less time on the court. He finished with four points in 7:32 of playing time.
Stevie Wonder serenaded Sir Charles Barkley for his 48th birthday. Rihanna rocked the crowd in the skimpiest of outfits at halftime (and touched herself in a place usually reserved for the privacy of our own bedrooms -- not that I am complaining).
The stars were out en masse as the NBA's biggest exhibition game came to Tinsletown.
Ciera Miller. Jack Nicholson. Warren Beaty. George Lopez. Dustin Hoffman. Warren Sapp. Ne-Yo. Arnold. And of course Justin Bieber, Justin Bieber, Justin Bieber were amongst the plethora of stars at the game in Los Angeles.
Uber-New York Knicks fan Spike Lee was courtside, while P. Diddy, Puff Daddy, Diddy or whatever Sean Combs is going by this week was somewhere in the crowd. And how the heck could I miss Jay-Z and Beyonce in my first attempt at this post?
If you believe Twitter Nation, Atlanta Hawks forward Al Horford was taking a first, second and third look at Atlanta-native Keri Hilson. Dwight Howard teased Justin Bieber and Steven Tyler of Aerosmith and American Idol fame. And former "ER" star Noah Wiley brought his son to the game. His son -- donning a Los Angeles Lakers jersey -- wished Sir Charles a Happy Birthday, too.
Lenny Kravitz rocked out while the All-Stars were being introduced on the Staples Center floor. Josh Grogan did something that Christina Aguilera couldn't -- pulled off a flawless rendition of the National Anthem.
And then there was Rihanna. Oh Rihanna. I think she could have me thinking "What's My Name" with that (lack of) outfit she was wearing. Mercy! Drake and Kayne West were there, too, but I wasn't exactly looking at them.
The stars were asked on the
red magenta carpet (sponsored by T-Mobile) which teams they rooted for. And while most of them picked those big city teams from New York and Los Angeles, or made the trendy bandwagon pick and stuck with the Miami Heat, props got to the beautiful Ciera Miller -- who picked our Atlanta Hawks as one of her favorite teams. She has something going on beside beauty, looks and musical talent.
Anyhow, you're all probably looking for a video of that scorching-hot Rihanna performance. Here it is compliments of @Jose3030.
(The fun stuff you may not want to see your kids to see starts around 5:40 or so).
Kobe just keeps on scoring.
Kobe Bryant is making a bid to nab his fourth All-Star Game MVP by posting 34 points and Kevin Durant added 20 to lead the West to a 117-100 lead over the East through three quarters at the Staples Center.
LeBron James has 15 points and Dwyane Wade and Amare Stoudemire have 14 points each for the Eastern Conference, which has committed 18 turnovers through the first 36 minutes of action.
Wade limped off the court with 5:02 remaining, walking gingerly off the court after landing on the foot of Utah Jazz point guard Deron Williams. Wade, who sprained the ankle last week, is out for the rest of the game. Wade's misfortune was Johnson's game. Rivers finally put the Atlanta SG back in the game after the Miami Heat superstar went to the bench with the injury.
Of course, Johnson was in the game with Chris Bosh and three of Boston's Fab Four, who just stood around the bucket as the West had about three chances to put a field goal home.
Horford is the only non-minus player on the Eastern Conference team a flat zero in just 7:30 on the court. Only Kevin Garnett has seen less time on the court for the East at 5:37.
The funniest part of the action came off of the court in the third quarter. As TNT's Craig Sager went in for the kill question with Carmelo Anthony and started asking about his alleged trade to the New Jersey Nets and the New York Knicks, Bryant chimed in and "forbade" his "little brother Anthony" from answering the question.
Anthony for his part did say that he'd "be in a Denver uniform" when the team returns to play the Memphis Grizzlies after the All-Star Break.
It's the Kobe and Kevin Show at the 2011 NBA All-Star Game.
Kobe Bryant has 21 and Kevin Durant added 15 to lead the West in the 60th incantation of the All-Star Game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Atlanta Hawks Joe Johnson and Al Horford have six and two points respectively for the Eastern Conference. Johnson and Horford have been used sparingly by Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who has relied more on the East's starting five, Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat and Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen of the Celtics.
"We want to win," Bryant told TNT's Craig Sager at the break. "We want to prove the West is stronger. We can do that by winning the game."
Bosh has 12 points and Amare Stoudemire and Dwyane Wade poured in 10 each for the East, which has commited 10 turnovers in a defensively-challenged affair.
The East shot 50-percent (26-for-52) in the first half, while the West converted on just 47-percent (32-for-68) of its chances. But the West holds a 32-24 advantage on the glass and is +6 in turnover differential, which has allowed them to take 16 more shots.
Pau Gasol has 12 points for a Western squad that is just 2-for-14 from behind the 3-point arc.
Bring on Rihanna for the half-time show!
Bieber Fever invaded the Staples Center for the All-Star Game on Sunday night.
Dwight Howard gave the tween icon a shoutout courtside, heckling the MVP of the 2011 NBA Celebrity Game during a time out while Al Horford was onto better pursuits -- allegedly oogling the beautiful Keri Hilson.
TNT cut to the 16-year old Canadian resident who lives in Atlanta, wears New Orleans Hornets colors to Atlanta Hawks games and roots for Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. Beiber admitted to TNT's Craig Sager that despite his own eight point performance, Scottie Pippen deserved the MVP honor in the game.
"I really think that Pippen should have gotten the MVP," Bieber. "But it was a fan vote and my fans are crazy."
I'm sure Bieber didn't quite mean crazy as in insane -- more like crazy as in crazy enthusiastic.
Of course the tween pop icon went on to backtrack a bit and call his fans wonderful after telling a little anecdote about how one of them blocked his car from leaving whatever place he was at one time or another. Hmmm. That sounds kinda crazy if you ask me.
Amare Stoudemire finds Dwight Howard for the alley-oop. Kobe Bryant follows with an emphatic reverse jam. Welcome to the 2011 NBA All-Star Game, where defense goes to die.
Bryant scored 11 points and Kevin Durant and Pau Gasol poured in six each to lead the West to a 37-27 lead after one period, in a game full of dunks, steals and airballs.
The West took control with a 10-2 run midway through the first. After Carmelo Anthony missed a jumper, the ball bounced off an East player into the hands of Bryant, who dished the ball to his Los Angeles Lakers teammate Gasol for the jam to make it 21-10 with 5:38 left in the frame.
No Atlanta Hawks took part in that part of the West's rout, as Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers decided to go to his four (aka one too many instead of Josh Smith) Celtics off of the bench with Howard in the middle first instead of giving Joe Johnson and Al Horford a chance.
Horford finally entered the game with 2:38 left in the first, only to be rejected by the Dallas Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki. Johnson entered with 22 seconds left and missed a 3-pointer to end the period.
At least the pro-Lakers crowd booed when the four guys they love to hate taking the floor. (At least they have some taste in Hollywood). After his introduction, Ray Allen proceeded to chuck up an air ball to derisive cheers from the folks at the Staples Center.
Chris Bosh posted eight points off the bench and Stoudemire has six and for the East, which turned over the ball seven times in the first 12 minutes.
The All-Star Game got off to a decent start. Josh Groban knew all the words to the National Anthem and Lenny Kravitz rocked the house as the players were introduced in La-La land.
But what was up with those All-Star warmup unis? If I wanted to watch "Star Trek" I would turn on Sfy Fy or whatever network that show is on. (Can't you tell I am so not a Trekkie?)
I was half-expecting LeBron James to give us the Vulcan salute and say, "Beam Me Up Scottie (Pippen)." I guess in a weekend where everything is sponsored by someone, Adidas added their stripes to the warmup jerseys, but they were just plain hideous.
Tonight's 2011 NBA All-Star Game could be one of the most talented rosters we have seen in recent years.
Former Atlanta Hawks guard and current Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers will lead the Eastern Conference All-Stars into battle. The starters for the East as voted on by the fans are Chicago's Derrick Rose and Miami's Dwyane Wade. The forwards are Miami's LeBron James and New York' Amare Stoudamire while manning the pivot for the East will be Orlando's Dwight Howard.
Rivers will see many familiar faces on the bench as four Celtics were selected as reserves by the coaches. Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Rajon Rondo provide some depth for the Eastern Conference and will also be joined by Miami's Chris Bosh and Atlanta's Joe Johnson and Al Horford.
San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will coach the Western Conference All-Star team. The fan voted starters at guard for the West are Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant. They will be joined up front by Kevin Durant and current , at least for the moment, Denver Nugget Carmelo Anthony. Yao Ming was voted to start at center for the West but is injured and will not participate. San Antonio great Tim Duncan will take his place in the starting lineup.
The Western Conference reserves are Manu Ginobili, Pau Gasol, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, Dirk Nowitzki, Russell Westbrook, and Deron Williams. Love was named to the squad by NBA Commissioner David Stern as an injury replacement for Yao Ming.
Tonight is the 60th anniversary for the NBA's All-Star Game. Coverage begins on TNT tonight at 7 p.m. eastern time with tip off scheduled for around 8 p.m.
Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin and Washington Wizards center JaVale McGee put on quite a show in the 2011 Sprite Slam Dunk Contest. But Griffin ultimately stole the show with a little bit of showmanship on the penultimate dunk of the evening.
Griffin's "coach," TNT analyst Kenny Smith, served as ring master of what turned out to be a half-court circus on the Staples Center floor. Smith called out the Crenshaw Select Choir to sing R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly" as a Kia Optima settled into place under the basket.
To complete the trick dunk, Griffins' teammate Baron Davis got into the car, stationed himself at the sunroof and tossed Griffin the ball. The rookie forward jumped over the hood of the Kia and finished the two-handed jam.
McGee, who started the competition by becoming the first player to dunk a basketball into two buckets at the same time and dunked three balls in rapid succession, finished with a rather pedestrian dunk off of the backboard. Griffin won the online vote handily.
Here's the video of Griffin's final dunk compliments of YouTube.
JaVale McGee dunked in two baskets at once and dunked three basketballs in rapid succession. Serge Ibaka jammed it home from beyond the free throw line. DeMar DeRozan went off the backboard through the legs and pushed it home.
But in the end, Blake Griffin and TNT analyist Kenny Smith put on a performance. They brought out a car and a choir and won the 2011 Sprite Slam Dunk Contest.
With Smith acting as ring master hyping up the hometown crowd, Griffin took a lob pass from his Los Angeles Clippers teammate Baron Davis and jumped over a Kia while a choir belted out "I Believe I Can Fly."
Davis tossed the pass from the sunroof Kia Optima and Griffin jumped over the hood of the vehicle and slammed the ball home with a two-handed diddy.
Griffin also soared into the air, grabbed the basketball and tossed the bucket through the rim, dangling from the bucket with his elbow after the jam in the first round of the finals. McGee followed with the no-look reverse windmill jam from behind the basket. McGee's head soared near the rim on his last dunk, as he bounced it off the backboard and jammed it home -- an unimpressive end to what was a fantastic start for the Washington Wizards big man.
McGee scored a perfect 50 after he pulled off the first double-dunk in NBA Slam Dunk history, throwing one ball off of one backboard, while holding onto the other ball. He then dunked both balls through the hop at the same time. That was one point better than the jam by the hometown favorite Griffin, who completed a 360-degree two-handed dunk, which brought the Staples Center crowd to its feet.
But Griffin only scored a 46 on his next on his next dunk with a windmill jam off of the backboard for a total of 95. McGee easily advanced to second round with the first ever triple dunk. He finished the first round with a score of 99.
The Toronto Raptors' DeRozan lead off the competition with "East Bay Funk Remix" missed on his first first five tries before sinking a dunk through legs with a pass off of backboard. That was rewarded with a tally of 44. The Compton, Calif. native followed with "The Showstopper," bouncing the ball from the 3-point line before pushing it home with an emphatic right-handed dunk for a perfect score of 50.
Ibaka of the Oklahoma City Thunder finished in last place with a score of 90 with a dunk from behind the free throw line, which posted a score of 45, before posting another by grabbing a stuffed animal from around the rim with his teeth while slamming the dunk home.
Former Atlanta Hawks star Dominique Wilkins, Clyde Drexler, James Worthy, Brent Barry and Dr. J were the judges for the first round of the competition, which highlighted the 2011 NBA All-Star Saturday Night Festivities. Fans voted Griffin the winner of the final round via text message and an online vote.
In a preview of what could be the NBA Eastern Conference Finals, it was a battle between the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics in the Finals of the Foot Locker Three-Point Contest. James Jones took the shootout trophy to South Beach.
Miami's James Jones finished with 20 points, nailing four of his last five shots, but missing the all-important "money ball" on the final rack.
It didn't matter. Ray Allen flamed out down the stretch, missing most of his shots and finished last in the final round with a score of 15. Defending champion Paul Pierce lead off the final round of the shootout and posted a score of 18.
Allen had the highest score of the preliminary round, advancing to the second round with a score of 20. He nailed all five shots from the middle position on the floor.
Jones lead off the competition set the pace and finished second in the preliminary round with a score of 16. Pierce, an Inglewood, Calif. native was booed by the pro-Los Angeles Lakers crowd at the Staples Center. He somehow managed to stave off elimination by draining the last three balls to finish with 12 points
Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder probably should have stuck to the Slam Dunk Competition. He finished last with six points.
The Taco Bell Skills Challenge pits five of the best young point guards in a challenge of passing and ball handling through an obstacle course. Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russel Westbrook recorded the fastest time in the opening round navigating the course in 30 seconds. The Warriors Stephen Curry finished second with a time of 34.1 seconds to advance to the championship against Westbrook.
Curry saved his best effort for the finals where he finished the course with a very fast time of 28.2 seconds. With Curry's quick time already posted, Russel Westbrook had to take some chances and wasn't able to play it safe on the course. He missed on a couple of passes early and finished with a disappointing time of 44.2 seconds.
Al Horford, Coco Miller, and Steve Smith combined to bring Atlanta home a win in the Haier Shooting Stars contest. Team Atlanta advanced from the first round with a time of 47.6 seconds. Horford knocked down the half court shot in just the sixth attempt for the team.
Team Texas led by Dirk Nowitzki and TNT analyst Kenny Smith posted the fastest time in first round making all six shots in just 31.8 seconds. Smith knocked down the half court shot in the first attempt for the team.
Team Los Angeles finished a distant third with a time of 55.8 seconds while Team Chicago finished dead last with a time of 1:06.
Atlanta got off to a great start in the finals but struggled to knock down the half court shot. Al Horford finally delivered on the team's 18th attempt giving them a time of 1:10. Team Texas flew through the first six shots but never did connect on the half court shot which gave Atlanta the victory.
Team Atlanta is comprised of the Atlanta Hawks two time All-Star Al Horford, Atlanta Dream guard Coco Miller, and Atlanta Hawks legend Steve Smith.
John Wall scored 12 points and handed out a rookie-sophomore game record 22 assists while leading the NBA Rookies over the Sophomores 148-140. Wall's performance landed him the game's MVP award. Wall beat out his former Kentucky teammate DeMarcus Cousins who scored a game high 33 points while grabbing 14 rebounds.
The Sophomores were led by Oklahoma City's James Hardin who scored 30 points off the bench. DeJuan Blair scored 28 points and grabbed a game high 15 rebounds in a losing cause.
When the game started all eyes were on Blake Griffin. Griffin only played 14 minutes due to a heavy weekend schedule that includes the Slam Dunk Contest and the All Star Game on Sunday. Griffin scored 14 points in those 14 minutes of action. He also combined with John Wall to deliver the highlight of the game slamming home a bounce pass ally-oop reverse style in what looked to be a warm up for tomorrow's dunk contest.
From a local standpoint, former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket Derrick Favors scored nine points in the game and may or may not still be a New Jersey Net once the weekend ends as his name is in the middle of all of the Carmelo Anthony rumors.
The NBA Rookies have taken a 71-69 halftime lead behind 16 points from Minnesota's Wesley Johnson. The game has been an up and down affair featuring many highlights, 22 dunks, and 17 combined turnovers from the two teams. John Wall has played distributor for the Rookies piling up nine assists to go with eight points. Wall's former Kentucky teammate, Demarcus Cousins added ten points in the first half.
Blake Griffin hammered home a couple of ally-oop dunks but also took an inadvertent elbow to the nose. Former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket Derrick Favors scored seven points.
Dejuan Blair has the biggest highlight in the game as he threw a pass to himself off the backboard that he jammed in with one hand. Chris Webber compared the dunk to one that Dominique Wilkins did in the 1988 Slam Dunk Contest. Blair and DeMar DeRozan led the sophomores with 14 points apiece. James Hardin (13 points) and Wes Matthews (10 points) are the other sophomores in double figures.
Every player in the game has scored except Milwaukee's Brandon Jennings.
Scottie Pippen looked like he could walk back into any NBA practice court and keep up with the young cats playing the game. He simply dominated the BVAA NBA All-Star Celebrity Game, posting a bunch of points in the 54-49 win by his Eastern Conference team.
And when he honed in on Justin Bieber, the kid from Canada, who lives in Atlanta and wears New Orleans Hornets colors to Atlanta Hawks games just simply didn't have a chance. Bieber, who connected on a 3-pointer in the first half, was just flat out shut down on another 3-point try by Pippen -- who didn't even leave his feet to block the shot.
But not even an NBA great, who played alongside Michael Jordan could overcome Bieber fever.
The tween icon with the shaggy hair won the text vote from all his tween fans and took the MVP award, finishing with eight points. The game also included stars Romeo Miller (f/k/a Little Romeo), the rapper/actor Common and former NBA stars Chris Mullen, Jalen Rose and Rick Fox.
Bill Walton coached the Eastern Conference stars to victory, while West coach Magic Johnson begrudgingly took the loss, even razzing Pippen for playing too hard in the third quarter -- jokingly accusing him that he was playing like it was the 1991 finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Chicago Bulls.
The West cut the lead to 50-47 when Miller split a pair of free throws with under a minute left, before the West missed a layup on the other side of the floor. Bieber jacked up a wild 3-pointer, which missed the mark and the ball went out of bound to the Western Conference team. A.C. Green nailed a pair of free throws to seal the win.
But the outcome of the game doesn't matter. Thanks to Bieber fever, it's Atlanta 1, the rest of the country a big fat nothin'. Atlanta gets the MVP.
Justin Bieber got all of those freakish high-pitched squeals when he was announced to the crowd at the L.A. Convention Center. And let's face it, most of us didn't expect much from the kid. He's short and kinda looks like a girl. But the kid from Canada who lives in Atlanta can dish the basketball. He has two assists and even nailed a 3-pointer, too. (We won't talk about those other ones he missed.)
In a game like this, the score keeping is a bit loose -- but let's face it, does it really matter if Bieber is 1-for-5 or 1-for-6 from the field?
The defense is porous also.
But the Eastern Conference team lead by Scottie Pippen is taking it to their West Coast counterparts. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has also been very good for an Eastern Conference team (his pickup games with President Obama must really keep him in shape).
The East used a 12-2 run after the West scored the first bucket of a game to establish a 14-2 lead and never looked back. But there's still time for Magic Johnson's West to stage a comeback. Perhaps Bieber fever can spill over onto the court and those shrieking girls will go home happy.
2011 NBA All-Star Weekend from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Ca. is upon us and Atlanta will be well represented in the festivities.
Here is a breakdown of the main events of the weekend along with a special emphasis on your Atlanta Hawks that will be participating in the events.
All times ET. Visit SB Nation's NBA hub for more on non-Hawks.
Friday, February 18
BBVA All-Star Celebrity Game 7:00 p.m.. ESPN: Magic Johnson. Justin Bieber. Justin Bieber. Magic Johnson. Magic Johnson. Justin Bieber. Stars and former basketball greats will take to the court for a basketball game like no other. I mean, where else will you see Magic and tween recording artist Justin Bieber on the same court? Do you have Bieber fever? If not, Scottie Pippen, Chris Mullen, Jimmy Kimmel, Jason Alexander and the rapper Common will take to the
Staples Center L.A. Convention Center court. Just don't ask me what BVAA stands for. I don't know and I don't care.
T-Mobile Rookie Challenge and Youth Jam, 9 p.m., TNT: Former Georgia Tech star Derrick Favors and Los Angeles Clippers phenom Blake Griffin leads the rookie team against a sophomore team that includes Brandon Jennings of the Milwaukee Bucks. The rooks upset the sophomore team last season. Can they keep the streak alive and win for the second straight season?
Sprite Slam Dunk Showdown, 9:30 p.m., NBA TV: No, this isn't the slam dunk competition. It's a bunch of amateurs dunking the ball at the adjacent L.A. Convention Center. I have no clue who is in it, nor should you.
Saturday, February 19
D-League All-Star Game, 5:00 p.m., NBA TV: The best from the NBA's minor leagues face off in a battle that pits the East vs. West. Patrick Ewing, Jr. is among the prospects participating in what basically is a way for the NBA to make more money on concessions in another venue ahead of the slam dunk contest.
All-Star Saturday Night, 8 p.m., TNT
Haier Shooting Stars: Al Horford, Coco Miller of the Atlanta Dream and former Hawk Steve Smith represent Team Atlanta in a three-team shooting skills competition. They will face Dirk Nowitzki and the defending champ Team Texas and Pau Gasol and Team Los Angeles in the contest where the teams try to make six shots on the floor in the fastest period of time.
Taco Bell Skills Challenge: Got skillz? New Orleans Hornets PG Chris Paul does. He will be one of five NBA players trying to dribble and shoot their way through an obstacle course in the quickest period of time. Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls, John Wall of the Washington Wizards and Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder are the other participants in the field, which is missing defending champ Steve Nash.
Foot Locker 3-Point Contest: Ray Allen. Paul Pierce.Paul Pierce. Ray Allen. Ray Allen. Paul Pierce. And Kevin Durant, too. Pierce will try to defend his 3-point title in a competition, which includes his teammate Allen, Durant and Dorell Wright of Golden State and James Jones of the Miami Heat. Even the Cleveland Cavaliers have a representative in this one -- Daniel Gibson didn't take his services to South Beach. He will try to do something LeBron James never managed to do for the beleaguered citizens of that Ohio city -- bring a title home.
Sprite Slam Dunk Contest: Griffin will try to become just the second Clipper to win the dunk title when the hometown favorite headlines a field of four vying for the NBA player with the most ups. 2010 runner up DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors, Serge Ibaka of the Thunder and JaVale McGee of the Wizards round out the field that's without defending two-time champion Nate Robinson. For those degenerate gamblers out there, Griffin is a -250 favorite, followed by DeRozan +450, McGee +500 and Ibaka +850.
Sunday, February 20
60th NBA All-Star Game, 8:00 p.m. TNT: Finally, the big game. Throw defense out the window when East meets West for edition No. 60 of the battle of the best of the game, which will end with some sort of ridiculous 138-137 score. Horford and Joe Johnson represent the Hawks on the Eastern Conference team, which includes some dudes named LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo and Atlanta's own Dwight Howard.
Two Atlanta Hawks will be starring in Tinseltown. The league announced the reserves for the 60th NBA All-Star Game and the home team will be well represented in the game, which will take place on Feb. 20 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
C/F Al Horford and G Joe Johnson will return to the NBA's showcase of the best-of-the-best in basketball. They were named as reserves to an Eastern Conference team that also will include Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett of the Boston Celtics and Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat.
"It means a great deal to me to be selected as an All-Star again," said Johnson, who will be making his fifth straight All-Star Game appearance. "I can’t thank my coaches and teammates, as well as the organization, enough for helping to put me in this position."
Johnson made the squad thanks to a sensational January. The Atlanta forward averaged 26 points and 4.8 assists in 13 games in the first month of 2011 to push his points-per-game average to 20.6 PPG.
It will be the second straight appearance for Horford, who has been one of the steadiest Hawks this season, nearly averaging a double-double with 16.1 points and 9.9 rebounds per contest.
"I'm thrilled to be going back to the All-Star Game and I am proud to represent the entire Atlanta Hawks organization," Horford said. "Last year was an unbelievable experience and it's an honor for me to be selected again."
Snubbed once again for the Hawks was Josh Smith.
The Atlanta forward, who was also passed over last season, has similar numbers to his teammate Horford. But he was stuck behind Pierce, Garnett and Bosh on a crowded Eastern Conference depth chart at the forward position.
The reserves will join LeBron James and Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat, Amare Stoudemire of the New York Knicks, Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls and Josh Howard of the Orlando Magic on the Eastern Conference team.
Your Western Conference All-Star reserves include super rookie Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers. However, there was no love for Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves, who was left off the squad. The entire Western Conference roster can be seen here.
The wait is almost over. The NBA will announce the reserves for the 2011 NBA All-Star Game at 7:00 p.m. tonight on TNT and three Atlanta Hawks players have a chance to be going to Hollywood.
However, for all three to play with the stars in Tinseltown, the NBA's coaches will likely have to over look one or two members of the Boston Celtics.
Hawks center Al Horford should make the team as the East's No. 2 center behind the Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard. And Joe Johnson's hot January has made him a likely selection at guard, but he faces stiff competition from Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo of the Celtics and possibly Raymond Felton of the New York Knicks.
The news isn't as good for Hawks forward Josh Smith, who will likely be on the outside looking in once again. There are just too many big named stars in big TV markets ahead of him, including Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett of the C's. Sprinkle in Chris Bosh of the best
82-0, 74-8, 68-14 team ever* a/k/a the Miami Heat or possibly C/F Carlos Boozer of the Chicago Bulls as a Wild Card and it looks like it may be a stretch for Smith to make it onto the way-too-small 12 man Eastern Conference All-Star roster.
Johnson has pushed himself into All-Star consideration with an NBA Player of the Month-caliber first month of 2011. The Atlanta forward averaged 26 points, 4.8 assists and 4.5 rebounds in 13 January games to push his points per game average to 20.6 PPG.
Horford has been one of the steadiest Hawks this season, nearly averaging a double-double with 16.1 points and 9.9 rebounds per contest.
Smith has similar numbers to Horford (16.2 PPG, 8.9 RPG), but is stuck behind some perennial All-Stars in Beantown and the hype of the media darling Heat, who already have two starters voted into the game by the fans.
Heat forward LeBron James and his guard partner Dwyane Wade, Amare Stoudemire of the Knicks, Derrick Rose of the Bulls and Howard will start for the Eastern Conference in the 60th NBA All-Star Game, which will tip off on Feb. 20 in Los Angeles.
Atlanta Hawks fans have their work cut out for them if they want to see a Hawk in the starting lineup for the All-Star Game in Los Angeles. The league released the first round of voting for the game on Thursday and there was not a Hawk to be found near the top of the leaderboard.
Forward Josh Smith has the most votes of any Atlanta player with 104,713 tallies, but he is sixth amongst all forwards and 500,000 votes behind leading vote getter LeBron James of the Miami Heat. The Boston Celtics' Kevin Garnett is second with 456,111 votes followed by the New York Knicks' Amare Stoudemire (327,626), the Celtics' Paul Pierce (235,107) and Heat's Chris Bosh (161,801).
The Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard leads all centers with 611,561 votes, more than double the lead of Boston's Shaquille O'Neal. Horford is an embarrassing fifth with just 49,098 votes. Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls (97,163) and Andrea Bargnani of the Toronto Raptors (53,275) are ahead of Atlanta's sensational center.
The good news is that there is plenty of time for your favorite Hawks to narrow the gap. Paper balloting concludes on Jan. 17 while online and mobile voting finishes on Jan. 23.
Move over LeBron James. Take a seat Dwight Howard. Sit down Dwyane Wade. Joe Johnson, Al Horford, Josh Smith and a bunch of tech-savvy Atlanta Hawks fans are gunning to make you sit down and watch the opening tip at the 2011 All-Star Game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Fans of the ATL's bird basketball team can help six Hawks players soar into the NBA's star-studded event on Feb. 20, 2011. Aside from the three aforementioned Hawkie-Hawks, Mike Bibby, Jamal Crawford and Marvin Williams are also listed on the ballot, which includes 120 players from the NBA's 30 teams.
The NBA keeps on rolling out all sorts of ways to vote for your favorite All-Star. Text message, mobile web, NBA.com and some sort of new-fangled HP printout ballot highlight the possible ways you can vote for your favorite Hawks star for the East. Call me a little bit old fashioned, but I am all about that piece of paper you get while watching Smith swat shots and Johnson put the ball into the hole at the "Highlight Factory."
The question for Hawks fans is whether Johnson, a four-time All-Star, can finally break through and win the fan balloting at guard. Yes, Wade is a lock for one of those spots. But the No. 2 spot, which went to an undeserving Allen Iverson last season, is up for grabs. Johnson will have to overcome a challenge from Vince Carter of the Orlando Magic, Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics and the Chicago Bulls' Derrick Rose if he wants to star for the Eastern Conference in Tinseltown.
Smith is hungry to return to All-Star weekend for the first time since he won the Slam Dunk Competition in 2005 -- but actually play in the big game this time. While he certainly won't be able to overcome the sheer star power of James, Chris Bosh, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to crack the starting roster, Atlanta's electrifying shot swatting forward is emphatically stating his case for a star-studded ticket to Hollywood -- especially after last year's snub.
The same should be said for Horford, who has emerged as arguably the second-best center in the East behind All-Star lock Howard. I'd be shocked if Big Al, who was named to the All-Star team for the first time last year doesn't return there this year.
Paper and in-arena balloting continues through Jan. 17 while fans can vote for their favorite Hawks via mobile, text and online-balloting through Jan. 23. The starters will be announced on TNT on Jan. 27.
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