Friday night of All-Star weekend is when the NBA likes to show off it’s future All-Stars. Or, at least the guys who seem like they are going to stick around the league for a while.
It’s the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge — what the rest of us still call the rookie/sophomore game. Although for the second year in a row the teams of rookies and sophomores will be mixed together on teams selected by Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley during the TNT pregame show Feb. 7. This morning, PBT’s D.J. Foster and I took our shot at picking the teams.
Wednesday the official list of players came out and it features the big names you expected — Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard and more. Here is the pool of players
• Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers)
• Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets)
• Brandon Knight (Detroit Pistons)
• Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs)
• Chandler Parsons (Houston Rockets)
• Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors)
• Tristan Thompson (Cleveland Cavaliers)
• Nikola Vucevic (Orlando Magic)
• Kemba Walker (Charlotte Bobcats)
• Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers)
• Anthony Davis (New Orleans Hornets)
• Harrison Barnes (Golden State Warriors)
• Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards)
• Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons)
• Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Charlotte Bobcats)
• Alexey Shved (Minnesota Timberwolves)
• Dion Waiters (Cleveland Cavaliers
• Tyler Zeller (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Each team chosen by Barkley/Shaq will have nine players for a shortened game that traditionally features less defense than the All-Star Game itself and is filled with some ridiculous shots because of it.
Check out the teams D.J. Foster and I picked for our game. It follows this pool pretty closely with a few differences — they do not have Ricky Rubio available, but as he is in his second season we took him (they had Shved in there instead). Rather than Vucevic we had Andrew Nicholson, who Foster likes better. Rather than Tristan Thompson I chose Jared Sullinger, and I also took Isaiah Thomas and had him playing, they went bigger with Zeller.
But this is a good group of athletes and shooters — it should be a fun game come Feb. 15.
John Wall goes coast-to-coast, behind-the-back for lefty dunk (VIDEO)
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) —Stephen Curry scored 34 points, Klay Thompson added 24 and the short-handed Golden State Warriors overcame a slow start to take a 3-0 lead in their playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers with a 119-113 victory on Saturday night.
The Blazers led by as many as 17 points in the first half, but couldn’t hold off the Warriors, who can clinch the series with a win Monday night in Game 4 at the Moda Center.
Golden State was without Kevin Durant, who was sitting for a second straight game cause of a left calf strain, and coach Steve Kerr stayed back at the team hotel because of illness.
The Warriors took a 108-100 lead after Andre Iguodala‘s dunk with 4:05 to go.
Noah Vonleh‘s dunk got Portland within four at 110-106 with 1:29 left, but Curry answered with a 3-pointer that all but sealed it, sending fans streaming for the exits.
Paul Millsap had 29 points, pulled down 14 boards, got to the line 11 times, and led the Hawks to the win. He got the calls he wanted this game, but Washington’s Markieff Morris was not exactly down with high praise for Millsap.
The key line here: “”He just did more for his team. He’s a crybaby. Get all the calls and you a crybaby.”
Millsap was asked about that comment in his postgame presser — and the best part may be Dennis Schroeder’s reaction.
“It definitely got personal now, yes. I mean, I don’t care. So what? He can take his loss and go back to the hotel and be ready for the next game.”
Kawhi Leonard scored 16 consecutive points for the Spurs down the stretch of regulation to force overtime, then in OT hit a corner three with 7.2 seconds left to tie the game at 108-108. Leonard finished the game with a career playoff high of 43 points.
It wasn’t enough. Because in those final seconds Marc Gasol did this.
The 110-108 Memphis win ties the series at 2-2 as it heads back to San Antonio for Game 5. I might not want to sit next to Gregg Popovich on the flight home.
While Gasol hit the big shot, he never gets the chance if Mike Conley isn’t every kind of amazing through the clutch parts of this game. Conley finished with 35 points, and that includes a floater in the lane that forced OT (although Leonard got a pretty good look to end it in regulation and just missed). I’m surprised the Spurs switched on the pseudo pick on this play.
The Spurs struggled to get stops down the stretch, mostly because they had David Lee and Tony Parker both on the floor and Memphis did a good job getting switches onto those defenders. Spurs starting center and best defensive big Dewayne Dedmon missed the game due to an illness, and that ended up mattering.