<span class="vcard">Kurt Helin</span>

Taco Bell Skills Challenge 2015

Stephen Curry hits 13 in a row on way to Three-Point Contest win

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NEW YORK — You knew he was going to win this event one of these years.

Stephen Curry, the best pure shooter in the game, drained 13-straight three-pointers on his way to winning the All-Star Saturday night Three-Point Contest. He beat the deepest field in the history of the event to do it.

“I’m very happy right now, I’ve obviously been in it four times, so I wanted to win it and get it done,” Curry said.

Why would someone come back four times to win it?

“I might be crazy.”

Crazy good.

There were two rounds to the event and for Curry to advance out of the first, he had to get hot at the end and hit four of the five money balls to score 23 points. That tied him with Kyrie Irving, one behind Klay Thompson’s 24.

That eliminated some good guys. Portland’s Wes Mathews hit eight of his last nine to put up 22 points. J.J. Redick got hot but had stepped on the line, costing him a few points, and he still finished with 17. Both Kyle Korver and Marco Bellineli had 18 points, and James Harden put up 15 as he was off his game. They were all out.

In the second round, Irving looked a little tired, a little off, put up a 17.

Then Curry lit it up — that guy just thrives on the big stage, and he hit 13 in a row, got the building screaming and put up that amazing 27. It was in the bag then, right?

“Klay Thompson was behind me, no way…” Curry said. “He’s capable of putting up 37 points in a quarter; he can knock down a few threes.”

But Thompson looked human, too, and didn’t come anywhere near Curry.

This was more than just another win for Curry. On his shoes he wrote the name Deah Shaddy Barakat to honor one of the victims of shooter in North Carolina recently.

“Obviously, having North Carolina roots, and once I got to know who Deah was as a person, and the stories everybody was telling me, it only seemed right to honor him and his family,” Curry said after the contest. “And hopefully they know that people are thinking about them, that they are not alone, and hopefully it can give them some kind of peace and comfort knowing that he was a special guy.”

NBA makes it priority to “dramaticly reduce” four games in five nights, back-to-backs

Adam Silver
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NEW YORK — If there is one thing that lowers the level of play in NBA games, its players being tired from travel condensed games. There is statistical evidence that on the second night of back-to-backs teams play 1.5 points per 100 possessions worse. It gets even worse when teams play four games in five nights.

Players complain about the density of the schedule, and coaches deal with it by resting key guys in the middle of the season — we’re looking at you, Gregg Popovich. But he’s far from the only one.

Adam Silver wants to reduce those condensed schedule games  — starting next year.

“The issue of back-to-back games, the issue of four games out of five nights: One of the things we’re hoping to address, even for next season, is to come as close as we came to eliminating the four games out of five nights,” Silver said in the commissioner’s annual All-Star address to the media. “It’s a math formula at the end of the day in terms of the number of days in the season and the number of games we play, but we think we can make a dramatic reduction there.”

Silver took care in his remarks to say that the league thinks it can dramatically reduce its four games in five nights almost immediately. Back-to-back games, however, will take time to really cut down.

“But I think we can make a dramatic impact there,” Silver said of the back-to-backs. “That may take more than one season. We’ll have a reduction based on some additional television windows.”

Right now, TNT broadcasts showcase games on Thursday night, and there are usually just those two games, maybe one other that night. ABC (Disney also wants some limited competition on League Pass on the nights it broadcasts. Silver said the league has reached out to them about loosening those restrictions, freeing up nights to have games. The league also has reached out to the arenas around the league trying to open up more nights and options, Silver said.

The other option is to add more dates to the schedule. Silver said he would talk to the teams and owners about reducing the numbers of preseason games — not training camp days and practices, but reduce some of the games — then start the season a week earlier (or so) compared to the usual start around Halloween.

“I have talked to a lot of our basketball people about preseason,” Silver said. “And my sense is that, while they feel a training camp, and a fairly long training camp, is still critically important, especially because we have a lot of young players in this league and there isn’t a lot of practice once the season starts, I don’t think they think the preseason games are as valuable as they once were.”

This change would be good for the league. Very good.

It’s not going to eliminate injuries — particularly not the freakish catastrophic ones — but it can reduce the games lost to “soreness” or other symptoms of the bumps and grinds of a season. You can see more of guys like Kobe Bryant or Dwyane Wade, who get more rest for their bodies in the schedule rather than by missing games. It’s good for the fans, good for the product.

It’s another smart move by Silver, if he can pull this off.

 

Steve Kerr changes mind, LaMarcus Aldridge to start in All-Star Game in place of Anthony Davis

NBA All-Star Practice 2015
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NEW YORK — All signs were pointing toward Kevin Durant getting the start in Sunday’s All-Star Game in place of the injured Anthony Davis, including Durant himself thinking that would be the case.

But Kerr had a change of heart.

Kerr has selected Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge to get the start on Sunday night.

That’s a huge coup for Aldridge, a guy who struggled to get recognized despite years of fantastic play up in Portland. Portland was going to build around Aldridge and Brandon Roy until Roy’s knees gave out, but now it is Aldridge and Damian Lillard.

Through it all Aldridge has been as good and consistent a power forward as the league has seen. This year is fourth straight All-Star Game. (Check back later in the week at PBT for our exclusive interview with Aldridge.)

West coach Steve Kerr had three starters to replace — Kobe Bryant, Blake Griffin and Davis were all voted in by the fans but can’t play due to injury. Commissioner Adam Silver picked the roster replacements, but Kerr gets to choose the starters.

James Harden and Klay Thompson were chosen to replace Kobe and Griffin, but it took a while for the decision to be made on replacing Davis. Aldridge may be a better fit in terms of balance; now the West has three guards (Stephen Curry, Thompson, and Harden) balanced by two big men, Aldridge and Marc Gasol. Then again, it’s an exhibition, so the balance isn’t that important.

Kerr just went with a very deserving guy.

Andrew Wiggins wins MVP of Rising Stars, just first award he wins this year

BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2015
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NEW YORK — Andrew Wiggins got a little practice Friday in talking to the media after winning an award. He’s going to need that.

Wiggins scored 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting and picked up the MVP of the Rising Stars Challenge at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. It’s a nice piece of hardware Wiggins was handed, but he’s going to pick up a far more coveted one for rookies after the season ends. Friday night was just the appetizer.

Wiggins scoring helped lead the World to a 121-112 win in an exhibition game that has about as much defense as you’d expect.In that kind of free-flowing atmosphere Wiggins’ athleticism is on full display.

“It was all fun,” Wiggins said after the game. “It was competitive, but it was fun too. I think we gave the fans and all the people watching something to watch, some entertainment.”

Wiggins was the No. 1 pick of the Cavaliers last June but by the time he was playing for Cleveland at Sumer League he was forced into the middle of one of the biggest NBA stories of the year — Minnesota demanded him in return for sending Kevin Love to Cleveland (to pair with LeBron James). At the time it was incredibly awkward for Wiggins. However, in the end this path may be better for his game because he’s getting more minutes and being put in more pressure situations with the Timberwolves than he would have been for the win-now Cavs.

“I think it was the best move for me,” Wiggins said about the trade. “It gave me more room and put me in a position where I could grow up faster. In the league, that’s always what’s best for you. (In Cleveland) I would have been more of a role player. Here I’m getting more time to shine and do what was put in this league to do.”

Wiggins is growing. Fast.

He had a rough start to the season, but in his last 20 games he’s averaged 17.4 points a game, shooting a respectable 45 percent from the floor. His jumper still needs work, he is turning the ball over almost as much as he is making an assist, but he is getting better. He is figuring out how to use his athleticism in the NBA.

But put him in a defense free exhibition and he will put on a show. And win a nice trophy for the case.

It will not be the last trophy he picks up as a rookie.

Mo’ne Davis puts spin move on Kevin Hart, blows past him for layup (VIDEO)

Sprint Celebrity Game 2015
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Mo’ne Davis can do more than throw a baseball.

The Little League World Series star took part in the NBA All-Star weekend Celebrity Game and gave us the highlight of the night — a spin move right past Kevin Hart for the layup.

Hart went on to win the MVP — that’s four of them for him, it’s a February tradition like Groundhog Day — but all we’re going to talk about is this. Well, that and that Davis is about the same height as Hart.