The Kings aren’t anything resembling good, but they have a couple of players that have been playing at a well-above-average level in Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins. And both left with injuries against the Rockets on Wednesday that didn’t allow them to return.
Gay’s was more nebulous, in that you never like to see a guy go down with what the team later described as an Achilles injury following him coming up limping after not coming into contact with anyone else.
The way Cousins went down was more understandable (at least visually), because he came into contact with a defender in Patrick Beverley that caused him to go crashing to the floor.
For Thunder fans wanting to jump in and pile on Beverley for being the cause of a second injury to a high-profile player, let me stop you right there. As was the case with his unfortunate collision with Russell Westbrook in last year’s playoffs, Beverley wasn’t doing anything dirty here. Defenders are instructed not to give up layups or dunks in transition, and Beverley was simply doing his job in fouling Cousins, and the awkward, injury-inducing fall was the unfortunate result.
Kevin Durant keeps building up superstar accolades with second All-Star MVP
CHARLOTTE – When Kevin Durant won All-Star MVP in 2012, he was asked whether he considered himself a star, a label he had resisted.
“I wouldn’t say that just yet,” Durant said. “Hopefully. Hopefully soon I can say that.”
The notion was silly then. Durant had already made two All-NBA first teams and finished second for MVP.
But that All-Star MVP started to change how Durant presented himself. He made another All-NBA first team, again finished second for MVP and led the Thunder to the NBA Finals that season.
“In 2012, I started to feel like I started to hit that elite level,” Durant said. “All that stuff in one year was pretty exciting to me.”
The hits have kept rolling since.
Durant has added an MVP, two titles and two Finals MVPs. Tonight, he claimed another All-Star MVP. The Warriors star scored 31 points on 10-of-15 shooting to lead LeBron James‘ team to a 178-164 win.
“I just keep trying to rack them up, I guess,” Durant said.
That’s seven years between his All-Star MVPs. Few players sustain that elite level – starring among stars – so long. Only LeBron James (12 years), Michael Jordan (10 years), Kobe Bryant (nine years), Oscar Robertson (eight years) have gone so long between their first and last All-Star MVPs.
Durant, 30, appears to have plenty left in the tank.
Of course, the impending question: Where? Durant can become an unrestricted free agent this summer, and this weekend included plenty of speculation.
Tonight’s game gave Knicks fans reason to fanaticize. New York’s presumed targets with its double-max cap space, Durant and Kyrie Irving showed strong chemistry. Half Durant’s baskets were assisted by Irving, who sent five of his six assists to Durant (the other an alley-oop to former teammate LeBron).
Asked which of his All-Star teammates he best meshed with, Durant refused to name one.
“You don’t really have to do too much when you’re playing with so many great players,” Durant said. “You can do what you’re just best at.”
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.