NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 19:  Anthony Davis #23 of the New Orleans Pelicans shoots the ball in the first half of the 2017 NBA All-Star Game at Smoothie King Center on February 19, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
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Record night from hometown star Anthony Davis leads West to 192-182 All-Star Game win

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NEW ORLEANS — For all the drama around the All-Star Game this week — from the overblown Kevin Durant/Russell Westbrook “feud” to the suddenly not overblown DeMarcus Cousins trade — when the game tipped off the guys wanted to make it about the Pelicans’ Anthony Davis.

From the opening minutes of the game Western Conference All-Stars were trying to feed the hometown hero and get the man buckets — players known to never pass up an open look did just that to feed Davis.

It worked, Davis broke Wilt Chamberlain’s 1962 record for all-time All-Star points record by scoring 52 points — and every make was inside the arc. Wilt had 42 points, but his teammates’ passes meant Davis was the MVP and leading the West to the 192-182 win.

“That’s what I wanted to do,” Davis said of winning MVP. “I stressed that, I think more than enough, to the guys in the locker room before the game that I wanted to get the MVP for this crowd, for this city, and I ended up doing it. Them guys did a great job of just finding me, giving me the basketball.”

“It shows the guys understand what this weekend is about,” West coach Steve Kerr said, later adding he planned to give the Pelican’s star more run in his hometown. “Davis was the unofficial host of the weekend.”

Westbrook came close to reaching the record too, finishing with 41, and in the second half he got so hot he had to cool himself down.

The defense was what you expect in an All-Star Game, which is to say none. To the point that after the game Westbrook was saying the players need to take it upon themselves to make this a more competitive game in the future. Kerr said the league needs to find ways to incentivize the players to compete a little harder and not let it become a dunkfest.

With the best players in the world and nominal defense, guys were getting buckets from the start. The West was trying to feed Davis early, and he had a quick eight points and finished the first quarter with 10, while Westbrook came in and got a quick nine off the bench. Westbrook’s buckets included a give-and-go with Durant that drew a lot of attention.

However, it was the East up 53-48 after one thanks to early buckets by Giannis Antentokounmpo, who had a quick 10 for the East in the first quarter (on his way to 30 for the game), while Boston’s Isaiah Thomas had a quick eight off the bench (he would finish with 20).

Davis continued getting the touches in the second quarter, picking up another dozen to give him 22 first-half points and helping the West push out to a 97-92 halftime lead. Yes, halftime. Did we mention there was no defense? Also, LeBron James had 20 in the first half to lead the East (he had just three in the second half).

The third quarter continued the sad defense overall and the high energy from the Greek Freak, all of which came together when Curry literally laid down on the court to avoid ending up in a poster dunk.

The other show in the third was Westbrook, who got hot and scored a dozen points all in third — all on threes — and kept the West out in front 144-139.

But in the end, the night belonged to Davis.

Isaiah Thomas misses showboat dunk, so he turns it into a three

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 19:  Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder defends Isaiah Thomas #4 of the Boston Celtics in the first half of the 2017 NBA All-Star Game at Smoothie King Center on February 19, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Welcome to the NBA All-Star Game, the only place this play could take place outside a Harlem Globetrotters showcase.

In his second All-Star Game, the Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas got the chance for a breakaway dunk (thanks to a spectacular miss by Russell Westbrook) so Thomas decided to go for the Dunk Contest level dunk… and missed it.

So, he turned it into a three. That works.

Thomas had 11 first half points, hitting three from beyond the arc.

Rumor: Kings reignite trade talks for DeMarcus Cousins; Cousins agent denies

AUBURN HILLS, MI - JANUARY 23: DeMarcus Cousins #15 of the Sacramento Kings looks on while playing the Detroit Pistons at the Palace of Auburn Hills on January 23, 2017 in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Sacramento won the game 109-104. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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The Sacramento Kings may be looking to move center Boogie Cousins. Stop me if you’ve heard this rumor before.

According to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Kings management has reportedly engaged in talks during All-Star Weekend to move the talented, fiery center.

If moved, Boogie would be the biggest player dealt thus far this season.

Via Twitter:

It didn’t take long for Cousin’s agent to try and kill those rumors.

That Cousin’s agent denies it doesn’t make it false, however, this move would be a huge change of directions for the Kings organization.

It may also be one they may need to consider. The Kings have said they would offer Cousins the “designated player” max extension (likely around at $213 million over five seasons), and Cousins has said he would sign it. If the Kings really wanted to make him happy, they could do a Russell Westbrook style renegotiation of his contract for the coming season, then have the extension kick in after that (Boogie would sign that, too). However, do that and they have no cap space to bring in players around Cousins, they stay the same team they are right now for years.

The Kings have been reluctant at times to even engage in discussions with teams, in part because owner Vivek Ranadive doesn’t want to move the big man knowing they will go a decade before getting a player that talented on the roster again. The Kings were frustrated when former coach George Karl was insistent on moving him, and they dismissed interest from both the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers.

But there’s also been recent talks around Boogie and the Phoenix Suns, and the situation from an outside-of-California view seems to be ripe for a split.

Cousins, for as good as he’s been, has not shown he’s enough to take the team into the playoffs. Kings management, meanwhile, has been an absolute disaster during his time there and has not done much to compliment him. The relationship seems to have soured, even as owner Ranadive has backed Cousins.

Whatever the outcome, if Cousins gets traded by the Feb. 23 deadline it will go down as one of the biggest mid-season moves this season. It’s going to be hard for Sacramento to move on from a franchise player like Boogie, but perhaps it’s time to look for a different path. For Cousins, a breath of fresh air and a little help might put his career in a new perspective as well.

Going big: Kristaps Porzingis wins Skills Challenge (video)

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NEW ORLEANS — Kristaps Porzingis was a half step behind Gordon Hayward as they shot their layups in the Skills Challenge, but the 7-foot-3 Knicks forward had an advantage as each player’s ball fell through the hoop.

“I kind of cheated a little bit,” Porzingis said. “I grabbed the ball before him, because I’m taller. And then I just kept running.”

Porzingis kept his advantage, hitting a 3-pointer on the other end to win the Skills Challenge on All-Star Saturday Night. He’s the second big man to win in the two years larger players participated, joining 2016 winner Karl-Anthony Towns.

 

 

In an event thought to favor guards considering the emphasis on ball-handling, passing, speed and shooting, the bigs are making their mark. Even Gordon Hayward, a forward shoehorned into the guard division won that to meet Porzingis in the final. But the bigger Porzingis was too quick.

“It’s a good feeling I’m able to showcase my skill with my size,” Porzingis said.

It’s a new era for NBA bigs. What’s next for Porzingis on All-Star Saturday Night?

“Slam dunk competition? For sure not,” Porzingis said. “Maybe one day 3-pointers.”

 

Complete results

Quarterfinals

Gordon Hayward over John Wall

Isaiah Thomas over Devin Booker

Kristaps Porzingis over DeMarcus Cousins

Nikola Jokic over Anthony Davis

Semifinals

Gordon Hayward over Isaiah Thomas

Kristaps Porzingis over Nikola Jokic

Final

Kristaps Porzingis over Gordon Hayward

NBA confirms: Marcus Smart fouled Jimmy Butler

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Marcus Smart was called for fouling Jimmy Butler, who sank a pair of free throws in the final second to give the Bulls a 104-103 win over the Celtics on Thursday.

“He got a piece of the elbow,” Butler said.

Said Boston guard Isaiah Thomas: A bad call cost us the game.

The NBA’s Last Two Minute Report ruled on the contentious call, backing the refs’ assessment of a foul:

Smart (BOS) makes contact with Butler’s (CHI) arm that affects his jump shot attempt. Any contact to a shooter’s hand, arm, or wrist prior to the release of the shot is considered a foul

This is correct. It wasn’t the most egregious foul, but Smart touched Thomas’ arm. That’s a foul.

The league’s ruling won’t change the Celtics’ objections. They’ll remain stubbornly defiant, which — even if you ask Butler — is understandable.