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.