All Star weekend a mixed bag once again
By Peter Santo
The 2015 NBA All-Star Weekend was held in New York, the “Mecca of Basketball,” and featured many mixed results. The festivities included the 3-point Shootout, the Dunk Contest and the game itself, to name the some of the more recognizable events.
The 3-point contest had undoubtedly the best field ever assembled. The list of accomplishments of all the shooters were very impressive. Curry set the all-time mark for three’s in a season last year, Belinelli won the event last year and Korver is hitting 55% of his catch and shoot threes this year.
The field included JJ Redick, Stephen Curry, Marco Belinelli, James Harden, Kyrie Irving, Kyle Korver, Wesley Matthews and Klay Thompson. Stephen Curry eventually took home the hardware, defeating fellow splash brother Klay Thompson in the final round.
The game, which was won 163-158 by the West, had many different results for the assortment of players.
The dunk contest was filled with young players, showing off the young athleticism the NBA is filled with. Zach Lavine, the favorite going into the event, blew the competition away. Victor Oladipo was impressive as well but not enough to beat the soaring ability of Lavine, who received two perfect scores without any props.
Julius Erving, who is widely considered to be the best dunker of all time, was seen with his jaw dropped after a Lavine slam. It will be interesting to see the response of other dunkers in the league, and whether they want to compete with Lavine.
On Sunday night it was on to the main event, the game itself. Per usual, it was a high scoring affair with a combined 321 points scored. Three pointers were an important part of the game, with the West going 25 for 65 and the East going 23 for 68.
The star of the night was clearly Russell Westbrook, as he finished with 41 points, including a record setting 27 in the first half. He was voted MVP for his performance, which included 5 rebounds.
For West, there was a wide variety of success. Klay Thompson, who has been enjoying a breakout season and considered an MVP candidate thus far, struggled mightily, shooting 2/11 for 7 points. Kevin Durant seemed very disinterested, scoring 3 points, far below his average of 30.6 points per game in his 5 previous All-Star games.
On the other hand, breakout games from Westbrook, Lamarcus Aldridge and James Harden propelled the West to victory. Aldridge, a late starter replacing the injured Anthony Davis, scored 18 points. James Harden, who is considered the frontrunner for NBA MVP, had 29 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists. He started off going 6 for 9 and finished 11 for 16 from the field.
The East, who lost its fourth game in its last five tries, had mixed performances as well. Led by the likes of John Wall, who started and had 19 points, was 9-16 and had 7 assists as well. Lebron put on a show throughout the night, scoring 30 points to go along with 7 assists.
A surprise game came from Kyle Korver, the marksman three point shooter from the Atlanta Hawks. He went for 21 points, all from the three point line. Although no one struggled from the East like the Durants and Thompsons of the West, not everyone shined.
Carmelo Anthony went 6 for 20, shooting the majority of the times he caught the ball. Other players such as Jimmy Butler and Pau Gasol, both from the Bulls, seemed more interested in the festivities rather than the game.
While the actual game went as expected, the big storyline was the “revival” of the dunk contest. As fans we can only hope that Zach Lavine’s electrifying performance leads to many more great things in the future.
Tim Rey also contributed to this report.