Wow, the All-Star Game was actually good

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all star wade.jpgThe NBA got what it wanted — more people than ever watched a basketball  game live, setting a new world’s record in the new Cowboy’s Stadium. Sure, a bunch of the 108,713 people basically watched the game on the world’s largest television, but it’s a really cool television so the record stands. And will stand, at least until the Final Four comes there in a few years.

Those fans also got an entertaining, competitive game. Yes, a competitive All-Star game. One worth watching. Tied several times in the last minute all the way down to five seconds left. The East pulled it out, 141-139.

Dwyane Wade was your MVP, with a game-high 28 points, 11 assists, six rebounds and five steals. Why does he always seem to have his best games when it’s supposed to be Dirk Nowitzki’s night?

This is the rare All-Star Game recap where one can actually write about the game.

The drama got intense with 43 seconds left and the game tied, The West had the ball and the East played a little defense — how often do you see that in an All-Star game — but Chauncey Billups found an open Deron Williams, who passed on the open three and tried to drive, only to be stripped by Wade. Wade then brought it up and was fouled by Williams, who thought his team was behind and he had to foul. Oh, he is going to hear about that from teammates for a while. Wade hit both, East by two.

Out of a timeout, West coach George Karl drew up a play for Nowitzki — the hometown hero and host of the weekend — to take a three to win it. But Dwight Howard came out, so Nowitzki pump faked then drew the foul driving into him. Nowitzki hits both free throws, game timed at 139-139 with 7.7 seconds left.

East coach Stan Van Gundy then drew up a play for LeBron James — who else? — but he was double teamed (again, defense in an All-Star game, Larry Brown was smiling somewhere) and hit Chris Bosh, who was fouled driving to the hoop. He hit two free throws, putting the East up two.

The West’s final play was a Carmelo Anthony isolation three — he had been the guy on the West trying to take charge of the game all night — but LeBron was focused and up in his face, and Anthony missed and that was the ball game.

Early in the second half it looked like the East might pull away, as they started the third quarter the East started out on a 14-5 run and we finally got the Dwight Howard, LeBron dunk off everybody had wished they had watched on Saturday. LeBron had four reverse dunks by my count (not an officially kept NBA stat — but it should be) .

The West actually made it close again, thanks to a bench lineup of Billups, Pau Gasol, Kevin Durant, Williams and Zach Randolph. Game was tied with 6:30 left to play when that group was done.

Then the end of the game became the Summer 2010 Free Agent Showcase — James, Wade and Chris Bosh took charge.

Derrick Rose, his agent both say winning more important than money in free agency

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Lets’s start with a disclaimer: Nearly every player and agent say for them free agency is not about the money, it’s about winning/fit/style of play. Then they go to the team that gives them the most money, even if it’s not very good or plays a style that doesn’t fit with their game.

That said, as players get along in the league, winning does matter more and some players will sacrifice dollars for rings.

Derrick Rose is a free agent this summer, and both his agent and Rose himself said that finding a winning team is what will guide the process.

“Derrick wants to win,” Rose’s agent B.J. Armstrong told NBCSports.com as part of a PBT Podcast (which will drop Friday morning). “That’s who he is, whether he’s playing pick-and-roll or not. In the end, what I found as a player, what I found as an agent, is it’s much easier to play when you’re winning….

“This is his first time, in his nine years of playing in the league, that he’ll actually have an opportunity to select the people he thinks he can work best with. As long as you’re playing in a good spot and healthy, money and the rest of it will take care of itself. Where you get in trouble in this league is when you start trying to do things strictly for money.”

Here is what Rose himself said about his free agency this summer, via ESPN.

“Not even thinking money. I’ve got more than enough money saved. If I stopped playing basketball now, I’ll be all right,” Rose told reporters in Utah on Wednesday night. “I want to win. I want to be happy and feel at peace with myself wherever I’m at. But being at the negotiating table, you never know. I’m not going to negotiate with people where money is the No. 1 thing I’m asking for. I want to win.”

It’s going to be an interesting market for Rose, the number of “winning” or quality teams in need of a point guard and with enough cap space to sign Rose is a limited market. While he has said he would love to stay in New York and the Knicks have not given up on the idea of re-signing him, if they are committed to the triangle offense that may be an awkward fit (and it’s not exactly a winning team). The sands will shift this summer and something will open up, but will Rose take less money — and maybe a lesser role — to be on a team that’s a threat to do deep in the playoffs?

He says so. His agent said so. We’ll see what happens when the money hits the negotiating table.

Charles Barkley says if he was dying he would kill fellow talking head Skip Bayless

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Charles Barkley knows how to get ratings. He said weird stuff all the time. He’s feuded with LeBron James and made fun of LaVar Ball. Now Barkley has said that if he had some kind of terminal illness, he would want to kill former ESPN and current Fox Sports talking head Skip Bayless.

Uh, what?

It was the end part of a conversation Barkley had on The Dan Patrick Show this week, with Barkley quickly cramming it into the final minute of the show.

“You know what we should do for ratings?” said Barkley, “If I get a disease and I’m gonna die, how about you get Skip Bayless in here and I kill him live on national television.”

Bayless makes a living being abrasive, but this feels pretty clumsy. Then again, Shaquille O’Neal saying the Earth is flat is also simply testing the waters of how to get instant buzz around you.

Let’s hope Barkley stays healthy, if only for Bayless’ sake.

Sacramento King’s Ty Lawson denies violating DUI probation

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DENVER (AP) — Sacramento Kings point guard Ty Lawson has denied that he violated his probation in a Colorado drunken driving case by drinking and failing to complete community service.

Lawson and his attorney Harvey Steinberg made the assertion Thursday during a brief appearance in a Denver courtroom. In addition, Steinberg said Lawson wanted his vehicle equipped with an interlock device that would test him for alcohol consumption so he could prove he’s not drinking.

The judge agreed and plans to hold a hearing in May before deciding whether the former Denver Nugget should get a more severe punishment.

Probation officials allege Lawson tested positive for alcohol three times in the past six months.

He was arrested twice on drunken driving charges in 2015, first in Denver and then in Los Angeles.

Shocking news: Carmelo Anthony still doesn’t like triangle offense, wishes they played previous way

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Can we just start another Triangle vs. pace-and-space argument with the obvious: It doesn’t matter what offense the Knicks run when their defense is this bad.

New York has the fifth worst defensive rating in the NBA this season, and it’s been slightly worse since the All-Star break. The Knicks as a team don’t show much effort on that end of the court, they are the worst defensive rebounding team in the NBA, and they are fourth worst at creating turnovers. If you don’t get stops and just try to outscore teams, even if your offense is good you don’t win consistently.

Whew. Okay. All that said, the Knicks offense isn’t that good, it’s been pedestrian most of the season. There is talent there — Carmelo Anthony can still get buckets, Kristaps Porzingis is a rising star and scoring machine, Derrick Rose has his moments, and there are role players who can knock down shots. Part of the problem has been the push-and-pull between Phil Jackson (with friend Kurt Rambis as an assistant coach) pushing for the triangle, vs. coach Jeff Hornacek wanting to run a more modern offense. Right now the pendulum has swung back toward the triangle, with that set to be the offense next season.

In a surprise to nobody, Anthony prefers the pace-and-space style offense, and wish the team would just stick with just one offense, as he told the New York Post.

“Early in the season, we were winning games, went on a little winning streak we had. We were playing a certain way. We went away from that, started playing another way. Everybody was trying to figure out: Should we go back to the way we were playing, or try to do something different?…

“I thought earlier we were playing faster and more free-flow throughout the course of the game,’’ Anthony said. “We kind of slowed down, started settling it down. Not as fast. The pace slowed down for us — something we had to make an adjustment on the fly with limited practice time, in the course of a game. Once you get into the season, it’s hard to readjust a whole system.”

Anthony may not need to worry about the Knicks offense next fall as he may well not be with the team.

The question for the Knicks is, how many free agents can they draw willing to play in the triangle? Of course money talks, but guys with options will consider the system and how they fit in it.