Just a few hours before Blake Griffin wins the Dunk Contest on Feb. 19, a bunch of guys who want their NBA shot will get a turn in the spotlight. Sort of.
The D-League All-Star game is part of the All-Star weekend festivities and is taking place next door to Staples Center at the NBA All-Star Jam Session. The Jam session is the official fan event attached to the All-Star Game (there are all sorts of unofficial ones at nightclubs across Los Angeles, but those are a little different and involve expensive vodkas).
Serious NBA fans will recognize a lot of the names on the D-League All-Star roster — most of these guys were drafted and have had a cup of coffee at least in the NBA. If you don’t know them, learn them because these are the guys most likely to get call ups to the NBA in the coming months.
Selected to the D-League All-Star East tea, were Chris Johnson (Dakota Wizards), Ivan Johnson and Garrett Temple (Erie BayHawks), Walker Russell Jr. (Fort Wayne Mad Ants), Othyus Jeffers, Courtney Sims and Curtis Stinson (Iowa Energy), DeShawn Sims (Maine Red Claws), Patrick Ewing Jr. and Dexter Pittman (Sioux Falls Skyforce).
Chosen to the D-League All-Star West team were Marcus Cousin (Austin Toros), Trey Johnson (Bakersfield Jam), Shane Edwards (New Mexico Thunderbirds), Jeff Adrien and Mustafa Shakur (Rio Grande Valley Vipers), Joe Alexander and Sean Williams (Texas Legends), Larry Owens and Zabian Dowdell (Tulsa 66ers) and Orien Greene (Utah Flash).
Not sure this exhibition will have that much more defense than the actual NBA All-Star Game the next day. Well, if it has any defense it will have more than the NBA game. So we can root for that.
The game starts at 5 p.m. Eastern and can be seen on NBA TV.
The Pistons had just 19 assists – to 22 turnovers – in their 93-83 loss to the Nets last night.
Stan Van Gundy was none too pleased.
On offensive problems:
I told them in there – that was the first thing – we’re not playing together at all. I thought it was a very selfish performance, and guys wouldn’t just pass the ball to open men. They wanted to see if they could take one more dribble to get their own shot, so the passing angles were gone. I just thought we forced play after play after play. We’re not willing to move the ball
On Reggie Jackson, who scored seven points on 3-of-10 shooting with six assists and six turnovers, and was coming off Achilles soreness:
He was not good at all. He was forcing everything.
On injuries to point guards – Jackson, Brandon Jennings and Steve Blake – hindering the team’s flow in practice and that carrying over to the game:
We could probably make a lot of excuses for our guys, but we were selfish.
Van Gundy is clearly trying to send a message, and the preseason is the best time to do it.
But it’s somewhat troubling he had to do it after this game.
Eight of the 10 Pistons who played against Brooklyn project to make the regular-season rotation. Joel Anthony played over Aron Baynes, and once healthy, Blake could challenge Spencer Dinwiddie to become back up point guard – at least until Jennings is ready. Otherwise, Detroit – with Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris, Ersan Ilyasova, Andre Drummond, Jodie Meeks, Stanley Johnson and Anthony Tolliver – looked similar to its opening-night lineup.
Van Gundy is blunt, but he doesn’t tell the media things he hasn’t already directly told his players. They appreciate that.
He’d appreciate them getting this message.
Dwight Howard said he played with a torn MCL and meniscus in the Western Conference finals – pretty shocking news that few knew what to make of.
So, um, did he have offseason surgery?
Calvin Watkins of ESPN:
Howard obviously feels great about his health now, so maybe this was the right course.
We’ll never how Howard would have performed if fully healthy, but he averaged 14.4 points and 14.4 rebounds in 35.1 minutes per game against the Warriors during the conference finals. How bad could the injuries have been?