PBT’s All-Star reserves — no Celtics, no Mavs, no apologies

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This is the hard part. And the fun part. Picking the NBA All-Star game reserves.

The voters picked the starting five from each team, but picking the reserves is a balancing act of rewarding good players and making sure the teams doing well get represented. You can’t make this omelet without breaking some eggs, and I’m breaking the Celtics — they get none. No Knicks backups either.

And out West, no Mavericks make it.

It’s a harsh world where tough decisions get made. Here are my picks.

Eastern Conference Reserves:
Deron Williams, Jrue Holiday, Joe Johnson, Andre Iguodala, Josh Smith, Chris Bosh, Roy Hibbert.

Just missed out: Luol Deng, Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Ryan Anderson, Tyson Chandler, Darren Collison, Danny Granger, Lou Williams

Why: Rajon Rondo would have made it had it not been for the injury. The next best point guard not listed to me is Holiday, who has been a go to guy on the Sixers, as much as they have one. I gave serious consideration to Kyrie Irving for a spot, who has had a fantastic start to the season, I don’t care if he’s a rookie. If you want to put Irving in there I am good with that. I just had to get a couple of Sixers in there.

Deng is a glue guy that is hard guy to leave off as he has been huge, but the injuries set him back. Didn’t like leaving Ryan Anderson off either, he has had a great start to the season. Leaving Granger off hurt, but that is a deep position.

I have Hibbert making it because at least one Pacer should make it to represent them. If you want to make it Granger and remove the Hawks Johnson go ahead, but now you’re disrespecting a Hawks team with the second best record in the East (better than the Pacers).

Western Conference Reserves: Russell Westbrook, Kyle Lowry, Rudy Gay, Danilo Gallinari, Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Marc Gasol

Just missed the cut: Pau Gasol, Nene, Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, Ricky Rubio, Ty Lawson, Al Harrington, Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson, Marcin Gortat.

Why? First, to me Love, Westbrook and Aldridge should be unquestioned locks.

With Andrew Bynum as a starter it came down to Nene, Gortat and Marc Gasol at the backup five spot, and while you can make a real case for Gortat (who is having a fantastic year) so is Marc Gasol and he has had to take on more of a load with Zach Randolph down. So Gasol got my nod. Besides, doesn’t there always have to be one Gasol on the All-Start team?

Pau Gasol has been inconsistent and Dirk Nowitzki is just not having a good year. Steve Nash missed a couple games with injuries but you can put him on — you just can’t take off Westbrook (Gay would be my last guy to make the cut). Gallinari has been the leading scorer on a selfless team in Denver that has the second best record in the West.

Dikembe Mutombo to receive Sager Strong Award

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NEW YORK (AP) — Hall of Fame basketball player Dikembe Mutombo will receive the Sager Strong Award at this year’s NBA Awards show.

The award is named for longtime Turner Sports sideline reporter Craig Sager and presented annually to an individual who has been a trailblazer while exemplifying courage, faith, compassion and grace.

Mutombo’s honor was announced Tuesday by the NBA and Turner.

The four-time Defensive Player of the Year created the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation to improve conditions for people in his native Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital has treated nearly a quarter of a million people since opening in 2007.

He will receive a colorful suit jacket, the kind Sager fashioned during his years on air before dying of leukemia. The award will be presented on June 25 in Santa Monica, California.

Former New Orleans coach Monty Williams was last year’s inaugural recipient.

Kyle Kuzma says Lonzo Ball hitting weight room hard this offseason

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It wasn’t just Lonzo Ball‘s awkward jumper that was a problem for him, so was his finishing around the rim — Ball shot less than 50 percent in the restricted area and 43.6 percent inside eight feet. In today’s NBA, he has to become more of a consistent scoring threat to open up his passing lanes.

Part of that is Ball getting physically stronger, something that also would help him avoid injuries and play in more than 52 games (what he did as a rookie). That part he is working on already, Kyle Kuzma told Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.

“Consistency in the weight room, that is the biggest thing,” Kuzma said on Tuesday of what he has seen out of Ball this offseason so far. “He has been in there pretty much every day I have been in here around this time. You can tell he is taking the weight room a lot more serious and that is going to help him by allowing him to recover faster and hopefully next year be on the court more because of that weight room.”

The Lakers are counting on the development of their young core — Ball, Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, etc. — as well as free agents they can attract this summer to lift them into the playoffs next season.

Magic Johnson told Ball this is going to be the most important summer of his life, that now he has to put in the work to take his body and game to the next level. To play like a No. 2 pick.

So far, so good.

Re-watch highlights from the final minutes of Houston’s series-tying win

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After the game, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said his team ran out of gas, which is what led to their 3-of-18 fourth-quarter shooting and just 12 points. There’s some truth to that, particularly with Andre Iguodala out forcing other guys into the rotation and a heavier load on the stars.

But give the Rockets credit here.

Part of what wore down the Warriors was fantastic pressure defense from Houston that made Golden State really work on offense. As Golden State got tired, players settled for midrange jumpers, not getting to the rim much (three times in the quarter) and not having the legs under their threes (0-of-6 in the quarter).

Meanwhile, it wasn’t pretty, but James Harden and Chris Paul were making plays.

Check out those plays again in the video above — we finally got a good game in a series, we should savor that.

Steve Kerr on Warriors’ late possession vs. Rockets: “I wanted the timeout”

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The Houston Rockets leveled the Western Conference finals against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night by a margin of 95-92. The win for the Rockets was ugly, but it leveled the series at 2-2 heading back to Houston.

It was a close game down the stretch, and it looked like Golden State’s last chance to get the win was going to come on a possession with 11 seconds to go following a missed James Harden jumper.

The Warriors immediately turned up the floor and did not call a timeout. The resulting possession was messy, and it wound up ending on a difficult Klay Thompson turnaround jumper. Golden State would get another shot at a 3-pointer with half a second left thanks to a foul on Thompson’s miss, but many were still left wondering why Steve Kerr did not choose to call a timeout during the possession before.

Kerr addressed the decision after the game.

Via Twitter:

You sort of have to side with Kerr in principle, but if you’d seen the way the Warriors played the rest of that fourth quarter you would probably err on calling a timeout and letting them set something up. Curry was 1-of-8 in the fourth, Durant shot poorly most of the game, and Golden State scored 12 total points in the final period.

When you consider Curry got a look at a wide open 3-pointer in the corner with 0.5 seconds left on the clock when the Warriors did call a timeout on the next possession, it makes it look even worse.

In any case, Houston beat out Golden State in a close game and we’re headed back to Texas for Game 5 on Thursday.