Your All-Star weekend schedule

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It was so nice of David Stern and the NBA to bring the All-Star Game to the home city of PBT (myself and John Krolik both live here). That way we still have to deal with family and other responsibilities in addition to work. No trip out of town for us. No working vacation. Nope, just our regular responsibilities plus a million new ones. Thanks for that, Mr. Stern.

Still, we will be all over the events and reporting from everything. There will be live blogs and interviews and we’ll do everything but get you invited up to the Playboy Mansion this weekend. Which may not really be the place to be right now anyway.

Here’s a rundown of the weekend events (all times Eastern).

Friday (February 18)

7 p.m. Celebrity Game (ESPN). Have you ever wondered how good Justin Bieber’s crossover is? Of course you have, who hasn’t? Now you can find out in person. There will be former NBA players (Scottie Pippen, Magic Johnson, Bill Walton) trying to set up Bieber, who by my guess is 3’8” tall. Also playing will be Common, because a rapper is a required part of this.

9 p.m. Rookie Challenge (TNT). John Wall lobbing ally-oop passes to Blake Griifin. Normally we don’t recommend watching this game, but Wall to Griffin might be reason to tune in. Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony will be coaching (and talking about how to exploit free agency).

Saturday (February 19)

8 p.m. We will be live-blogging all of the excitement here at PBT. Well, not just the exciting parts, we’ll do the Shooting Stars, too. Come on by and we’ll ignore that event and talk dunks.

8 p.m. Shooting Stars (TNT). It’s a tough call, but this may be the least watchable of all the All-Star events. If you need to spend 30 minutes of quality time with your family, this is a good time. Teams consisting of an NBA player, a WNBA player and a TNT Analyst shoot shots and get times on it. Your defending champ is Team Texas with Dirk Nowitzki, Roneeka Hodges and Kenny Smith.

8:30 p.m. Skills Challenge (TNT). Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, John Wall, Russell Westbrook will dribble around cones and pass through tubes. Basically, they run drills.  This event is sponsored by Taco Bell and it would be appropriate if the Staples Center crowd started chanting “We Want Ta-cos.”

9ish p.m. (after the Skills Challenge ends), Three-Point Contest (TNT). Ray Allen and Paul Pierce take on Kevin Durant and a bunch of guys LeBron James used to or currently set up for threes in this one.

9:15ish p.m. (after the Three-Point Contest) Dunk Contest (TNT). Can Blake Griffin live up to the hype? Does he have jump off the top of the Staples Center scoreboard to meet expectations? Griffin is the favorite but watch out for Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan, he can in second last year and is a Los Angeles guy, too (USC, just up Fig a few blocks from Staples Center). Serge Ibaka and JaVale McGee will be there, too.

Sunday (February 20)

8 p.m., another PBT live blog. So that you have a place to laugh with friends when the Staples Center crowd starts booing LeBron James.

8 p.m., NBA All-Star Game, (TNT). Will Celtics players pass to Heat players? Will Heat players pass to Celtics players? Will Kobe Bryant pass to anyone? Remember to relax and remember that this is an exhibition — nobody is going to play defense or anything close to it. Pau Gasol already started practicing that against the Cavaliers. The big question is who decides to demand the ball and goes all out to win MVP. I’ll call my Derrick Rose shot now.

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

Associated Press
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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.