Tim Duncan isn’t an ageless wonder, it’s just that his age doesn’t seem to show. Facing the best front line in the NBA this season — Memphis’ Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph — he was at the heart of the Spurs’ sweep of the Grizzlies.
We’ve marveled over the years as players such as Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant adapted their games as they aged — as their explosivness went away they improved their footwork, developed post games, figured out how to get to their spots on the floor, became better passers and basically made up for what they lost physically with their mind.
Duncan’s game was never about explosiveness and power, it was always about fundamentals and execution. He’s not as athletic now as he was in 1999 when he won his first ring, but his game doesn’t seem to have aged because it didn’t have to. Which makes it seems like he never aged.
Because of that, because of the sustained excellence, you get the feeling he will always be short-shrifted in legacy talk. He’s not flashy. Which is too bad, because his all-around game is something special to behold.
Team LeBron starts playing defense first, comes from 20 down to win All-Star Game
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Midway through the third quarter of Saturday’s All-Star Game, Team LeBron started to care.
Down 20 at one point early in the third, Team LeBron came out of a mid-quarter timeout with a different energy. The “bench” guys on the court started defending with the kind of relative intensity usually reserved for the final minutes of this exhibition (when it’s close), the players on the bench were standing and cheering like it was a playoff game, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal started knocking down everything, and the game just shifted. It culminated when Damian Lillard tied the game up with a 35-foot three.
Team LeBron kept up the momentum, owned the fourth as Durant went 3-of-3 from beyond the arc in the quarter, and Team LeBron got the win 178-164.
“It was our second unit that came in — Dame, Klay, Brad Beal, LaMarcus, Ben Simmons, KAT,” LeBron said after the game about what turned the momentum. “They came in and just changed the whole complexion of the game. We got stops, and, obviously, Dame and Klay caught fire from beyond the arc, and that allowed us to get back in the game.”
Durant was named MVP, a clear choice with his second-half play in particular.
The one guy who was intense from the start was Antetokounmpo, who scored the first six points for Team Giannis. He didn’t slow down on his way to 20 first-half points, plus he had one of the game’s great highlights on a bounce pass alley-oop from Curry.
Antetokounmpo wasn’t the only Buck hot to start, Khris Middleton entered the game midway through the first quarter and drained three shots from beyond the arc in a row. In the first nine minutes of the game, the Bucks were beating Team LeBron 28-27.
The favorite crowd moment of the first half was when future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki walked on the court and splashed a couple of threes.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Maybe Dirk Nowitzki shouldn’t retire after this season.
Added to the All-Star Game by Commissioner Adam Silver (along with Dwyane Wade) in what is expected to be the final season for the future Hall of Famer, the greatest shooting big man of all time showed he still has the touch. Entering the game midway through the first quarter, Nowitzki proceeded to quickly splash a couple of threes.