HOUSTON — Combined Kevin Durant and Tim Duncan had played in 26 All-Star Games before their planes even landed in Houston this weekend. Both veterans would have preferred a weekend off from the game this year.
Their coaches tried to accommodate.
Tim Duncan played 8:03 and Kevin Garnett 6:26. They made their appearance for the fans but both coaches knew the veterans needed their rest.
“I just told Erik (Spoelstra, Miami and Eastern Conference coach) it’s the young guy’s game. Give me a couple minutes and I was cool. He said alright,” Garnett said.
Garnett has said this will be his last All-Star game. We’ll see if that’s true (if you are in the league and selected the league doesn’t really let you just say no. But he has played less than 15 minutes total in the last two All-Star games combined.
The coaches were under no real pressure to play the veterans, but West coach Gregg Popovich was under pressure to play James Harden. The lone Rocket representative was in demand but also had a tweaked ankle.
“I talked to him ahead of time about his ankle and that sort of thing, and he felt it was no problem,” Popovich said after the game. “We tried to get him a little bit of extra time
Harden played 25 minutes and finished with 16 points on 6-of -13 shooting.
But he got a lot of run and hit some key shots. So everyone got what they wanted.
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.
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.