One of the things we’re sure you’ll be watching a week from Friday — because what could you possibly have that’s better to do on a Friday night? — is the All-Star Shooting Stars contest. You know, where one current NBA player, one WNBA player and one TNT analyst per team shoot standing shots from numbered spots on the floor. Who would want to miss that?
Great news for you then, the teams have been announced. I knew you’d be excited.
Team Los Angeles will include the Lakers’ Pau Gasol, the Los Angeles Sparks’ Tina Thompson, and NBA TV analyst — and Big Bang Theory cameo guy — Rick Fox.
Team Atlanta features the Hawks’ Al Horford, Coco Miller of the Atlanta Dream, and NBA TV analyst Steve Smith.
Team Chicago is comprised of the Chicago Bulls’ Taj Gibson, the Chicago Sky’s Cathrine Kraayveld, and TNT NBA analyst Steve Kerr.
Defending champion Team Texas is represented by the Maverkicks’ Dirk Nowitzki, the San Antonio Silver Stars’ Roneeka Hodges, and TNT analyst Kenny Smith.
If you care (and we’re not really sure you do) the rules are there are six numbered shooting locations of increasing difficulty, with each team attempting to make all shots in numeric order in the fastest time. Each team will select a specific player rotation to follow throughout the competition. Each shot must be made before the next player begins shooting in succession.
The event will be broadcast on ESPN. Set your DVR, then when you get home you have something to help you fall asleep.
Utah’s Donovan Mitchell with shot of night to force OT with Spurs
One of the factors to consider in the Rookie of the Year race: clutch plays.
Down three with less than 10 seconds to go Friday night, the Utah Jazz put the ball in the hands of their rookie playmaker Donovan Mitchell — and he made the play, draining a three to force overtime. It’s an impressive play.
In the clutch this season (last five minutes of a game, within five points), Mitchell has averaged 3.2 shots per contest (by far the most of any rookie) and has a true shooting percentage of 51 percent. Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons, the other front-runner in the ROY race, averages less than a shot per game in those clutch situations (0.8) and has a true shooting percentage of 66.7 percent.
Mitchell made the big shot, but the Spurs made plenty too, had 45 points on the night from LaMarcus Aldridge, and got the win.
PBT Extra: Who is coming out of the Eastern Conference?
The Toronto Raptors will finish with the No. 1 seed and all the best metrics in the East, but they have a history of playoff flameouts. The Boston Celtics’ have been hit hard by injuries. And the Cleveland Cavaliers have LeBron James but also a dreadful defense, this is the most vulnerable a LeBron led team has been since he bolted Cleveland seven years ago.
So what team is coming out of the East?
We get into that in this latest PBT Extra. A poll on Twitter found most of you think the Cavaliers, but personally, I think the Raptors — who have been better defensively all season than the Cavs — may finally have their year.
LaMarcus Aldridge drops career-high 45 points, Spurs beat Jazz in OT
SAN ANTONIO (AP) —LaMarcus Aldridge had a career-high 45 points, helping San Antonio overcome Donovan Mitchell‘s 35-point performance for Utah in the Spurs’ 124-120 overtime victory over the Jazz on Friday night.
The Spurs won their sixth straight and beat the Jazz for the first time in four meetings this season.
Utah’s 12-game road winning streak came to an end, but only after Mitchell had 14 points in the fourth quarter, including three 3-pointers in the final two minutes to force overtime.
San Antonio remained sixth in the Western Conference with the same record as fifth-place New Orleans, a half-game behind Oklahoma City for fourth. Utah remained eighth in the West.
After free throws by Spurs guards Manu Ginobili and Patty Mills and a dunk by Jazz center Rudy Gobert put San Antonio up 114-111, Mitchell drained his third 3-pointer of the fourth with 3.6 seconds remaining to force overtime.
Mills, who finished with 23 points, had six points in overtime as the Spurs capped an undefeated six-game homestand.
Aldridge averaged 32.2 points and 9.0 rebounds during the winning streak, including two double-doubles.
Aldridge scored 28 points in the first half on 12-for-16 shooting, including a 3-pointer.
Utah missed its first six shots and was 4 for 14 as San Antonio grabbed a 19-8 lead midway through the first quarter. Mitchell settled the Jazz, scoring six points to cut the Spurs lead to 29-21 heading into the second quarter.
Mitchell was 14-for-35 shooting while falling six points shy of his season-high.
In his first night back from an ankle injury that forced him to miss six games, Stephen Curry limped off the court not to return after in third quarter Friday night after JaVale McGee fell into his knee.
He limped to the bench then eventually to the locker room after the injury.