NEW ORLEANS — Damian Lillard’s busy All-Star Saturday night started out pretty darn well — with a repeat win.
Lillard will be in all three major events on the evening and first out of the gate he and Trey Burke teamed up to win the NBA All-Star Saturday Skills Challenge — by just one tenth of a second over the all-rookie team of Michael Carter-Williams and Victor Oladipo. Lillard was the defending champion in this event.
The event was changed up this year. First it became a tandem of players trying to work through the challenges passing off the ball in between, not an individual event (part of the NBA’s effort to make All-Star Saturday more of an East vs. West event). Plus, the challenges themselves were changed — gone was the bounce pass station, for example.
Didn’t matter to Lillard.
Lillard and Burke advanced to the final by first beating a team of Oklahoma City’s Reggie Jackson (who lollygagged through the course) and Phoenix’s Goran Dragic. In their first run Burke and Lillard’s time of 40.6 was the best of any tandem all night.
Carter-Williams and Oladipo (your two Rookie of the Year leaders) advanced by knocking off a team of Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo. We at PBT are big Antetokounmpo fans but this is not an event in the raw rookie’s wheelhouse — he missed on the chest pass and knocking down a top of the key jumper.
In the final showdown, Carter-Williams and Oladipo both missed on the chest pass and struggled with the jumper.
It seemed like something Lillard and Burke could beat as both were just quicker with the ball in this event, but a couple missed shots made it go right down to the wire.
“I started to hear the crowd and you continue to glance up and looked up at the clock and I knew it was close,” Burke said, adding he thought it was going to be a tie.
Still it’s a win is a win, and Lillard is your repeat Skills Challenge winner.
Leandro Barbosa – guarding Marcus Thornton and fighting through a Clint Capela screen – was called for a foul in the first quarter of last night’s Warriors-Rockets game.
Thornton went to the line.
Should he have? Or should Capela have?
Perhaps, Thornton and Barbosa tangled, but it certainly appeared the contact primarily occurred between Barbosa and Capela. It looks like Barbosa tries to ram through Capela.
It also appears Capela thought he drew the foul. Watch him step toward the line before seeing Thornton there and taking his spot along the paint.
So, why would Thornton step in? He’s making 89% of his free throws to Capela’s 40%.
I’m honestly surprised players don’t try this maneuver more often. Refs have so much to keep track of. The worst consequence would be the refs shooing away Thornton and bringing Capela to the line.
Thornton made both free throws, but it didn’t matter. Houston was playing Golden State, which rolled to a victory.
Kanye West – when he isn’t tweeting to invalidate the claims of dozens of women on nothing more than his own suppositions – is tweeting to Michael Jordan
Mark Parker is CEO of Nike, a company that collaborated with West on the Air Yeezy before an unhappy West bolted for Adidas. Jordan, of course, is a Nike ally and known for the Jumpman logo on his brand.
That’s why Kanye rapped in “Facts:”
Yeezy, Yeezy, Yeezy just jumped over Jumpman
Yeezy, Yeezy, Yeezy just jumped over Jumpman
We bring you the important news.
(hat tip: Jovan Buha of Fox Sports)
Kevin Durant has taken plenty of criticism for his reported interest in signing with the Warriors.
Don’t chase a ring by just bolting for the best team. Build up your own team. Kobe Bryant would never do that.
Kobe Bryant requested a trade from the Lakers in 2007 – when the Cavaliers tried trading everyone but LeBron James for him – and the Bulls were Kobe’s top choice. Kobe had a no-trade clause, so he had some power to choose his next team. The rest of his list?
Kobe, via Brian Windhorst of ESPN:
It was Chicago, San Antonio (or) Phoenix.
The Spurs were reigning NBA champions, and the Suns were coming off a 61-win season. These teams were the class of the league.
They also had strong offensive identities – Gregg Popovich’s ball-movement-happy system in San Antonio and Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo attack in Phoenix. How would Kobe have fit? Now, that’s a great what-if – especially because both teams had the assets to create intriguing trade packages.
The Spurs could’ve built an offer around Tony Parker and/or Manu Ginobili, the Suns around Shawn Marion and/or Amar’e Stoudemire. Could you imagine Kobe and Tim Duncan or Kobe and Steve Nash in 2007? It wouldn’t have been anything like the over-the-hill version we saw in Los Angeles a few years later.
Of course, Kobe stuck with the Lakers, who traded for Pau Gasol and won a couple more titles. Kobe led them to those championships, and he deserves credit for staying the course.
But, no matter what Durant decides this summer, remember all players consider as many options as they have in front of them. There’s nothing wrong with someone leaving a job for a better one when he has the ability to do so.
Even Kobe – a self-declared “Laker for life” – tried to do it.
The Knicks reportedly believed hiring Derek Fisher made them a contender for Kevin Durant this summer.
If they were right, firing Fisher – a respected former teammate of Durant with the Thunder – certainly didn’t help New York’s ability to lure the superstar in free agency.
Ian Begley of ESPN:
New York faces long odds to land Durant to begin with. And their chances took a hit after Derek Fisher was fired, league sources say.
I suppose it was possible Durant would’ve picked the Knicks, because I don’t believe Durant has decided where he’ll sign. But their odds looked so slim, anyway.
If the Knicks believed Fisher wasn’t the best coach for them, they were right to move on. Keeping him for Durant would have been foolish.
Is there a way New York can gain credibility with Durant? What about hiring former Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks?
Brooks is a name to think about, for one reason: The Knicks have been informed that their chances of landing Kevin Durant this summer would be influenced by hiring Brooks, according to league sources.
Begley implies Brooks would help New York sign Durant, but his words don’t explicitly say that.
“Would be influenced.” Positively? Negatively? Won’t the coach of any team Durant considers influence his decision? Durant, while thanking Brooks, quickly and fully got on board with the Thunder’s decision to fire him.
And informed by whom? Do we trust the Knicks to properly assess whether the source of that information is credible?
It’s probably not worth exploring those questions, anyway. Brooks has neither Phil Jackson nor triangle ties, which seem to be perquisites.
At least New York can still use Carmelo Anthony to recruit Durant.