Too much Russell Westbrook lifts West to 163-158 All-Star Game win


NEW YORK — If the East had beaten the ridiculously deep Western Conference this season, somehow it would have felt wrong.

Russell Westbrook was not going to let that happen. The Thunder guard put up 41 points — just one shy of Wilt Chamberlain’s All-Star record, one more than Jordan’s 40 — with five of those coming in a late push to help the West hold off the East 163-159.

“It’s definitely and honor to be grouped with those two guys, especially in an All-Star Game,” Westbrook said of Chamberlain and Jordan.

While the atmosphere in New York was electric (and frigid) all weekend, the game on the court Sunday night resembled a lot of other All-Star Games — a defense-free pick-up game for three-and-a-half quarters, followed by a few minutes of real-ish basketball.

The game saw a lot of records almost fall.

The West’s 163 ties the record for most points in an All-Star Game by a team, tying the number the East put up last year to win the event.

LeBron James put up 30 points in a losing effort, leaving him just two points shy of passing Kobe Bryant for the most All-Star Game points ever.

“LeBron really impressed me with his seriousness tonight, how he approached the game, how he was just mentally and physically getting ready for the game,” Atlanta’s Kyle Korver said. “I know he had a packed weekend, but just the way he approached the game I was really impressed by him.”

Korver almost made history himself. The Atlanta Hawks sharpshooter made seven three-pointers (on 12 attempts), one shy of the All-Star Game record of eight.

“Sometimes the wide open ones are the hardest ones,” Korver said of playing in this kind of defense-free exhibition. “I left a couple of them from the corner short, I wish I had them back.”

The first half started off as the West show. James Harden put up a quick 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting to push the West to 28-18 lead. Then Westbrook came in and started gunning threes, knocking down a few quick ones and suddenly he was on his way to the best first half in NBA All-Star Game history with 27 points.

All that had the West up by 20 at one point, but no lead is safe when no defense is being played. The East made a run in the final five minutes of the first half, in part behind LeBron who came out hot (4-of-5 shooting to open game) and had 22 first half points. The East closed the gap, and it was 83-82 West at the half.

The East took a 115-114 lead with 2:51 left in the third quarter after coach Mike Budenholzer went with a lineup of four Hawks — Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, Paul Millsap, Al Horford — plus LeBron. It was tied 122-122 entering the fourth.

The fourth quarter saw Chris Paul put up 10 points and DeMarcus Cousins put up nine. That proved to be too much for the East to overcome, despite eight points in the fourth from Kyrie Irving.

James Harden finished with 29 points for the West while LaMarcus Aldridge — named a starter on Saturday to replace Anthony Davis — finished with 18. John Wall had 19 points and seven assists for the East.

LeBron James misses wide-open alley-oop dunk from John Wall (VIDEO)


So LeBron James is human.

Despite this, John Wall and LeBron were part of the hot start for the East in the All-Star Game.

LeBron had 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting in the first quarter and looked like a guy who wanted to win MVP. Wall had six points and three assists in the first.

John Wall, Stephen Curry try H-O-R-S-E style shootout


All-Star Saturday is about having fun.

Which is what Stephen Curry and John Wall did with the Degree Battle of the Game Changers competition. After their respective practices, the two tried to outdo each other with trick shots. Only to find trick shots are not that easy. One of those was selected by fans online: a blindfolded free throw.

Neither could knock it down,

Eventually, Wall won the event,

Rockets’ Patrick Beverley wins All-Star weekend’s Skills Challenge


NEW YORK — Patrick Beverley is known as an aggressive defensive player, one that exerts maximum effort on that end of the floor while not needing to do much offensively. And, he was a late addition to All-Star Saturday Night’s Skills Challenge, replacing John Wall who withdrew due to injury.

But the grit Beverley is known for was on display in this one, and was enough for him to get through three rounds of competition to take home the title in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge.

The format of the contest changed from seasons past, and it made things far more entertaining as a result. Not only did two players go head-to-head in a bracketed format, but they went through the obstacle course on the court at the very same time.


Beverley almost didn’t make it out of the first round. He and his opponent, Isaiah Thomas of the Phoenix Suns, were both shooting layups at the same time to end it, with each other’s shots knocking themselves out before Beverley finally squeaked one in.

In both of the final two rounds, Beverley fell behind significantly. He missed all three chest passes in each, which allowed his opponents — Jeff Teague in the second round, Brandon Knight in the final one — to get out to big leads. Had either of them made their final shots before Beverley could catch up, Beverley would have been eliminated, and rightfully so.

But Teague missed a couple of three-point attempts, and Beverley made his first to advance. And, in the final round, Beverley again knocked down his first three to win the title, after misses from Knight once again allowed Beverley to catch up.

Report: Heat, Wizards show interest in Jameer Nelson trade


Jameer Nelson has been traded twice already this season, first from the Mavericks to the Celtics, and then to the Nuggets, and now he may be on the move again. According to RealGM’s Shams Charania, he’s one of a number of players Denver has on the block ahead of next Thursday’s trade deadline, and he’s drawing interest from a few playoff teams:

Nelson has bounced around in a backup role this year, averaging 7.5 points and 4.5 assists in 25.4 minutes per game for three teams, but he’d be a fine option for any of those teams. The Heat’s point-guard rotation of Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole is a disaster, and Nelson would be an upgrade. He’d be a decent option for the Wizards to back up John Wall, and he’d be a significant upgrade over Matthew Dellavedova as a backup to Kyrie Irving if the Cavs traded for him.

He also likely won’t cost much, considering his age (he’s 33). The Nuggets are asking for a first-rounder each for Arron Afflalo and Wilson Chandler, according to reports, and if no team meets those asking prices, Nelson could be the Nuggets player that ends up moving at the deadline.