Kyrie Irving

All-Star Saturday to feature East vs. West format for the first time

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All-Star Saturday night, as part of the NBA’s All-Star weekend slate of festivities, has been largely about two events: the Slam Dunk Contest, followed by, to a much lesser extent, the Three-Point Contest.

There are four events in total that make up the Saturday night program, however, and the league is trying something this year to perhaps get a few more people interested in the evening’s first two events.

From the official release:

For the first time, State Farm All-Star Saturday Night will feature a new format that pits the Eastern Conference against the Western Conference in a night of competition that will raise money for charity, the NBA and State Farm announced today.

As part of the new format, points earned by each conference throughout the four All-Star Skills Competitions will determine the conference that earns the title of 2013 State Farm All-Star Saturday Night Champion.  Also, each conference will have an All-Star Saturday Night captain who will lead his team during the event.

The first two events are the Shooting Stars and the Skills Challenge — the former is an around-the-world style competition that ends in a half-court shot (which is what ultimately makes it watchable), while the latter is an obstacle course of sorts that the league’s best guards try to navigate in as fast a time as possible.

Having attended All-Star weekend the last four years, I can tell you the arena doesn’t fill up on time on Saturday, as people really only care about making sure they see the evening’s two marquee events.

I’m not sure that this new wrinkle will change that, although at least the league is trying, and the fact that it’s doing it in the name of charity can only be viewed as a positive.

Hezonja throws down one-handed dunk in preseason debut

Orlando Magic Introduce 2015 NBA Draft Picks
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Mario Hezonja, the No. 5 pick in this year’s draft, has never lacked for confidence. The Croatian guard made his pro debut in the Magic’s preseason game against the Hornets on Saturday and did this:

Between Hezonja, Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon, the Magic have a nucleus of young players that has the potential to be a lot of fun. Even if they’re still a few years away from contending, they’re definitely going to be a League Pass favorite this year.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist suffers dislocated shoulder in preseason game

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Solomon Hill
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Preseason is only just getting underway and there’s already a potentially serious injury to report. In the game between the Hornets and Magic on Saturday night, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was taken to the locker room after suffering a right shoulder injury. The Hornets announced that he was then taken to an Orlando-area hospital for follow-up x-rays:

A few hours after the game, the Hornets announced that Kidd-Gilchrist has a dislocated shoulder:

Depending on the severity of the injury, he could miss a few weeks or a few months. Hopefully, it’s the shorter end of that timeline. We should know more on Sunday.