Posted by Kevin Arnovitz
Welcome to the post-kryptonite world. The arena is buzzier tonight. Security is more officious. In the media workroom, the tube is tuned to 48 Hours as the press corps warms up their laptops. As of 5:30 MST, Allen Iverson has lost 20 pounds of hair. Amare Stoudemire is still starting for the Western Conference All-Stars. And the U.S. Airways Arena facilities staff is collecting cardboard boxes from concessions and setting them outside Terry Porter's office.
We're ready for the main event -- the 58th NBA All-Star Game.
Follow along, won't you...
Gheorghe Muresan has just paid his respects to press row. It's Maryland Nighthawks Appreciation Night at US Airways Arena
The All-Stars have taken the floor...they then begin to hurl plastic mini-basketballs into the crowd. I think Paul Pierce knocked a 7 year old in Section 113 unconscious
For what it's worth, Michael Rappaport is wearing a very cool Tribe-Low End Theory tee.
Okay. The Matchup... Looking strictly at depth, the West has the advantage...
But if you consider an 8-man rotation and the lineups that would be on the court in crunch time of a meaningful game, the East has the slight edge.
As we wait, let's pose another question: Forget the voters. You're the coach handed this collection of talent for the respective squads: Who do you start?
EAST: PG -- Harris...SG -- Wade...SF -- James...PF...Garnett...C...Howard. Objections?
WEST: PG -- Paul...Wings .... Roy and Bryant....PF: Duncan...C: Ming.
Re: Dirk at the 3. I love it offensively. But we've seen far too many blow-bys in the past 10 years when he's been assigned to quicker wings, haven't we. In the context of this game, can you see Dirk on LeBron
The Big Phantom!
Incredible comic choreography
Sort of like the opening credits to Season 2 of Cosby, with each character doing interpretive dance.
West: Much more sober. [exception: Shaq].
James/Stoudemire most intriguing matchup
Also, very complimentary centers. Yao has a well-drawn game on the low block while Howard, though certainly a more refined post player than his early days, relies on athleticism and less on footwork and fundamentals.
Yao can change a shot better than any center in the league.
Kobe didn't chase DWade back along the baseline. Probably a bad idea.
Paul can find anyone anywhere at any time.
Paul Pierce is delivering a constant play-by-play.
Pierce about to check in.
East going small
New fun matchup: Dirk/Pierce
That is the first and only time you'll hear the shot clock buzzer tonight.
East got the switch they wanted. Pierce bricks
Kobe was *not* letting Johnson penetrate past the arc on that last possession.
Not sure that 'Shard/O'Neal matchup is going to work for East
Johnson and Kobe are playing an entirely different game than everyone else, intensity-wise. There's something there.
Nice little 13-0 run there for Westerners
O'Neal , as a matter of principle, is not going to chase Lewis to the arc.
Joe Torre in the building. Arena goes mute.
Kobe's 10 shot attempts were 2 off the record for a quarter.
Scottie Pippen just introduced. Arena officials pass the hat around the lower bowl.
Will we see Allen-Garnett-Pierce on the floor together?
Eric Snow makes the kiss-cam -- his first make in 5 years.
Gasol gets a piece! Quick close!
BRoy is the quickest guy of average speed on earth
Pierce didn't defend that poorly. But then that's Dirk.
Rashard Lewis, Center
KG holding court. Has the attention of the entire East bench.
Lots of Yeah, Mo!!! from the East bench. The shamockery narrative has life in the East.
Ever notice that Pierce rarely gets crossed over?
David West in the game. Is he the least deserving invitee?
Kevin Pelton's Advanced statistics have his Offensive rating at 105.8. His defensive rating at 105.4
What this means is that a lineup composed of 5 Davis Wests would score 105.8, and would give up 105.4
Which essentially means that Team David West this season is a scant over .500
Craig Sager is wearing Ruby Red Gator Shoes.
And just took a lot of grief for them from the East bench.
Interesting...The west *is* playing a fairly accurate rendition of the Triangle
You got Gasol there in the pinch post.
I mean, it's certainly more iso-heavy, but in terms of spacing, that's what they're up to.
Pierce has emerged as the Alpha dog of this unit.
It's the Drive-n-Kick, starring Rashard Lewis as your ballhandler. I love all-star games.
It would be really, really nice for Danny Granger to get some legitimate touches tonight.
Rashard at the 4. Order restored.
Can you imagine a team with Wade and Granger on the wings?
Nice...crabdribble from Mo
A vintage CP3 sequence. Plays the passing lane to perfection, runs the break, finds his trailer, saves the world.
Classy, classy touch. KG-Pierce-Allen just wheeled over a huge Green 75th bday cake to Bill Russell.
The cake will now be fedexed to Eddy Curry and Jerome James in New York.
LeBron apparently has the green light. Echhh
Tim Duncan with patience...even in an AS Game
Nice D, BRoy!
Roy absorbs the bumps, keeps his feet light. Some nights, I feel like he's a stellar defender, other nights he turns his head and gives up one step too many.
His Defensive Rtg [and we're using Basketball Prospectus/Pelton again]: A very pedestrian 106.2, second least impressive on West [Parker]
A matchup I've been dying to see: Howard/Duncan.
Alright...Early, premature, MVP-handicapping...
*If West Wins: Kobe Bryant leads West with 13, but he's done it on a less-than-impressive 6-13 FG. Of the 8 Westerners with 4 or more FGAs, he's the only one shooting below 50%.
The most eyepopping stat on the page is Paul's 8 assists...but he has 2 points on 1-5 from the field.
Roy has a nice, if non-MVPish line: 8 pts, 4 boards, 2 dimes, 0 turnovers in 16 minutes.
Gasol: A quiet 10 pts in 7 mins
The East is tougher. Pierce leads all scores with 14 points and has been the go-to guy when he's been in the game, for better or worse.
Kevin Johnson making the rounds. Imagine the irony if Sacramento loses its franchise while it has a former NBA standout in the mayor's office.
Commenter XBox Tim: The Nets would *love* to move Carter if they got the right package, but won't give him away for nothing. Per Hollinger.
T.O. in his Lakers long-sleeve Tee
Spike Lee having a conversation with the McCains
West: Into Yao in the post first two possessions. Interesting.
I think if the East is serious, they need to work the LeBron-Stat matchup to deat
Wade's gamble doesn't pay off.
Yao 1-3 to start 2nd half. They're feeding him.
So the West is working low.
I'm not sure you want to give LeBron that screen and get him Duncan on the switch. I'd rather him work 1-on-1 against Stat
Iverson: ALL BALL!
LeBron is the ticket back for the East...the matchup is there.
Watching these NBA All Stars do the love songs. Shaq doing Billy Ocean is stellar. This league is going to miss O'Neal when he's gone. They'll try with Howard and James, but O'Neal is righteously unique.
Jay-Z on the Kiss Cam.
Kobe wants baseline. Kobe gets baseline. that won't be the last.
O'Neal starts his drive from 25. Beaut.
The give-n-go O'Neal/Paul. Clearly the halfcourt highlight of the night. ONeal auditioning for wing duty.
Granger wanted none of that.
Shaq: A +19, leads the game
O'Neal with the clear inside track for MVP now.
So long as Lewis is the Eastern 5, I think there's a path of little resistance.
The prominent storylines that are emerging: (1) The Kobe-Shaq interplay.
(2) The east has absolutely no one to man the post defensively except Howard. And the problem is complicated because he and KG -- the only other candidate -- were placed alongside each other in the starting lineup, leaving Rashard Lewis with center duty.
(3) Kobe takes 19 shots in 15 minutes.
Dirk back in with a suave +19 on the night.
Iverson is the first recipient of the icepacks on knees. Was complaining about his knees to trainer.
That's something to watch.
Just guessing here, but I'd say he's unlikely to return.
Barring a late surge by the East or Amare, the MVP race is now down to Kobe and Shaq
The sagacious Kevin Pelton: These roster problems for the East wouldn't exist if David Stern had named a big man to replace Bosh instead of Mo Williams.
Shard continues his torrid shooting from last night.
After 3 Quarters, Points in Paint: West 72, East 42
Uhh...make that 74
Cant' keep my eyes off of Billups' gold kicks.
Nice side to side by East. Williams miss notwithstanding.
LeBron and Howard about to check in for last stand.
I love watching Gasol pass the ball with his back to the basket over his shoulder.
You could hear a pin drop in this arena.
Harris maintains his handle through traffic as well as anyone not named Chris Paul.
Nice McGrady attempt by LBJ
Did you see how far Pau played off LBJ?
Commenter SDBUCK760: Kobe/Shaq co-MVPs.
Would be a great story with legs into next week.
Wade should really stop gambling.
Howard from 21. Send in the Clowns.
How great are the last 5 minutes of an All-Star blowout? We get Kobe/Howard matchup on both ends...to unspeakable results. Still...
The voters on press row are debating.
The double PG attack for the final 2:00
That was one of the best drags of the night: Roy/Stat
Not Paul's finest moment.
Virtually better than anything we saw last night.
I went to an All-Star Game and a Slam Dunk Contest broke out.
LeBron's clearly got a yen for the 2010 SDC.
Co-MVPs -- SDBUCK760 calls it!
I think the enduring storyline of Shaq/Kobe will make this memorable, though I don't know if possession-by-possession this was all that notable a game.
32 combined turnovers is actually relatively low for an ASG, so you can't really call it a sloppy game.
If you want to pick it apart from an analytic standpoint, I think Kevin P. is correct. Size killed the East. The got mauled on the glass [51-38]
Points in the paint 96-58.
Rather than Mo, had the East chosen a big to replace Bosh, they might have been able to stem that third quarter collapse.
Though I haven't heard a report, I get the sense that KG was cleared to play no more than 20, which compounded the problem.
In any case, this is an ASG and I don't know if it warrant a further examination than that.
Thanks everyone for joining us.