2011 NBA All-Star Game - Performances And Celebrities

All-Star Game draws best ratings since Jordan era

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It was more than just Rihanna and Drake (and Kanye). It certainly was more than Lenny Kravitz.

It’s the game.

The NBA is as hot as it has been since the Jordan era and that continued again Sunday — the All-Star Game from Staples Center had 9.1 million people tune in to watch, the highest ratings since 2003, the year of Jordan’s retirement, TNT announced.

Ratings were up 33 percent over last year and up at least 29 percent in every age demographic and up at least 40 percent in every male age demographic.

That followed on the heels of an All-Star Saturday night that got the best ratings in the 26 years of the event.

All season long television ratings have been up for the NBA (and overall ticket sales are up one percent from last year). Credit the Heat and LeBron James, credit Kobe Bryant, credit the Lakers and Celtics being good at the same time again, credit young stars like Blake Griffin and Kevin Durant. Credit whatever you want (or all of it together), the numbers show it to be a reality.

Which will make it especially sad when the owners and players throw it all away by forcing a lockout that drives many of those fans away.

Khris Middleton dunks, Jimmy Butler can’t stop him (VIDEO)

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Khris Middleton has more expectations and more pressure on him after a breakout season in Milwaukee, followed by him getting him PAID this summer.

Well, he looked pretty good on this play against the Bulls, making the steal then throwing down despite Jimmy Butler‘s efforts to stop him.

Middleton finished with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting for the Bucks. However, Butler had the last laugh as he went off for 23 points on 12 shots and led the Bulls to the (meaningless) preseason win.

Somebody looks comfortable: Paul George drops 20 in first quarter

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Paul George‘s first experience starting as a power forward was going up against Anthony Davis — not just one of the best power forwards in the game, one of the handful of best players in the game period. That didn’t go well for George, and he wasn’t happy about it.

His second experience was in another preseason game Tuesday, going up against the Pistons and their four, Ersan İlyasova. He’s not quite as intimidating.

George scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 on threes — and that was just the first quarter (you can see it all in the video above).

As we have said before, George at the four is not a bad call by the Pacers, but some of that depends on the matchup. On the nights the Pacers face Davis or Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge or Zach Randolph (or a handful of others) the Pacers’ coaching staff is going to have to adjust. But there are a lot of nights where George at the four is going to force the other team to adjust, and that will play into the Pacers’ hands.