All-Star Game 2015: James Harden Nearly Gets Triple-Double
Russell Westbrook knows some media pundits questioned his inclusion in the All-Star Game given Oklahoma City rank outside the top 8 and because he missed 14 games due to injury. Though Westbrook may not have publicly announced his thoughts like his teammate Kevin Durant he definitely demonstrated by his on court play what he thinks about the criticism.
Westbrook was a one man wrecking crew on the Madison Square Garden court even hitting his own head on the back board during a slam dunk. On the day he played 25:33 minutes scoring 41 points (one shy of Wilt Chamberlain’s record of 42) on 16-28 field goals and hit 5 of his 9 three-point attempts. He also pulled in 5 rebounds (3 offensive), had 1 assist and 3 steals.
But, while Westbrook won the coveted MVP trophy his former teammate James Harden arguably put up the most impressive stat line. Harden scored 29 points shooting 11 of 16 from the field including SEVEN triples (7-12).
What made his line the most impressive was the 8 rebounds (3 offensive), 8 assists and 2 steals he grabbed. He did all this in 26:36 minutes on the court all within the flow of the game. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was trying to win the MVP or if former teammate Durant had been healthy enough to join him alongside Westbrook.
The other West player who put up a great stat line was Chris Paul who scored 12 points, dished 15 assists, had 6 rebounds and 2 steals. While some think CP3 has digressed and is being over taken by the young point guards, nights like this highlight CP3 at his very best and confirm why he’s still the best passing PG in the Association.
For the East, LeBron James came out looking like he had his heart set on winning another MVP trophy. From the onset he was aggressive driving the paint and shooting 3-pointers. And, while he did lead the East with 30 points his 12 three-point attempts of which he connected on four weren’t taking advantage of the King’s best assets. James added 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals and tied John Wall with an East high 4 turnovers.
Personally a highlight for me was the put back dunk by Kyle Lowry who hasn’t dunked since the 2008-9 season. In his first All-Star Game Lowry made the most of his time grabbing a game high 4 steals and dishing an East high 8 assists along with 10 points. Watching how much Lowry enjoyed his first All-Star weekend was a nice reminder that these events really do matter to the players.
Of note: Marv Albert should get his facts straight. Dwyane Wade joined Albert, Reggie Miller and Chris Webber at the start of the second half for an interview. During this interview Albert quipped to Wade that he was sure his children don’t listen to Justin Beiber’s music since his tweet was the only reason Wade didn’t make the starting line-up via fan vote in. In reality, Beiber forgot to use the hashtag so none of the over 100,000 retweets counted. I felt it was disrespectful to Kyle Lowry and the hoards of Toronto, Canadian and world wide Raptor fan base who voted daily to ensure Lowry made the starting line-up.
Furthermore, the fact Miami sits 8 games below .500 with a 22-30 record had many of us scratching our heads as to why 2 Heat players should even be on the East’s squad (Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade were selected by the coaches). It’s not even an apples to apples comparison of the Thunders’ Westbrook and Durant scenario as the Miami pair have missed a cumulative 25 games while the OKC pair missed 41 cumulative games. Also factor in Lowry was the sole Raptor representative yet they sit second in the East with a 36-17 record (equaling Portland and Houston for 4th best in the NBA) and have 14 additional wins to Miami.
I guess Albert will be even more disenchanted next season when the All-Star Game moves to Toronto, Canada when it’s likely the strong “We The North” fan contingent will do everything in their power to vote multiple Raptors as starters. I also suspect Canadians will join forces with the Minnesota Timberwolves fan base to vote in Toronto, Canada native Andrew Wiggins as a starter.
- It’s always fun to see the interaction of the players when they aren’t competing against each other. Perhaps the best example was the East bench rising for Lowry’s dunk and the West bench rising for Dirk Nowitzki‘s dunk. Or Dirk’s pointing to the sky afterward.
- Westbrook’s 27 first half points set a record for most points in a half
- LeBron James moved to second all time for most points scored at All-Star Games (Kobe Bryant ranks first)
- Combined 321 points scored by teams set a record for most points scored
- The 48 three-point makes breaks the record (the old record was set last year when they scored 30 three-pointers)
- Most touching moment occurred during introductions when the Gasol brothers met mid stage for an embrace and Pau placed his hand on the back of Marc‘s head.
- Shortly after the game ended it was announced the New York Knicks agreed to a buyout of Amar’e Stoudemire’s contract. Frank Isola reports San Antonio, Golden State and Dallas are all interested in acquiring him off waivers.
Knicks and Amar’e Stoudemire agree to buyout, ending former All-Star’s tenure in New York: source – http://t.co/2Q1rz2nUbw
— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) February 16, 2015
Other reports have Toronto, Portland,Phoenix and Los Angeles Clippers interested in pursuing the power forward. Of note: Amare has always commented on how much he loves the city of Toronto, but when he played in Phoenix it was during GM Steve Kerr’s tenure, so my thoughts are the Warriors, San Antonio and Toronto are likely to have an inside edge for him.
The Los Angeles Clippers, Portland Trail Blazers, Phoenix Suns and Toronto Raptors are also expected to pursue bought out Amar’e Stoudemire. — Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) February 16, 2015
Which brings us to the end of this year’s All-Star Weekend until next year when Toronto will host for the first time during their 20th anniversary season. And, with the end of the weekend we now move onto the break and what’s likely to be an active 4 days leading up to the trade deadline.
Notably Oklahoma City, Brooklyn and Sacramento appear to be the teams most often cited in active trade pursuits. Will Houston’s Daryl Morey make a move to shore up the front court in the absence of Dwight Howard? Or will he read the writing on the wall and upgrade his starting point guard? We’ve got a little more than 3 days to play arm chair GM and see if our instincts prove correct.
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