It's always fun to watch the world's best athletes try to top themselves and their peers. Last night, we got that in the form of the All-Star Game, where 24 of the league's best players went at it and showed off.
Russell Westbrook was no doubt the best player on the floor, coming out like fire. He hit three quick three-pointers in a row, each from further and further out, and like that he was off. He finally missed a three, which he shot from around Brooklyn, but his heat check lasted pretty much the whole first half, and continued into the second, ending with 41 points, one off of Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain's All-Star-Game record.
Westbrook set a record for most field goals made (11) and most points in a half with 27. As is Westbrook's wont, he celebrated vivaciously on every sick play he made, whether it was his typical "guns-in-the-holster", or mean-mugging, or struttin' down the court after a deep three. He's a joy to watch when he goes berzerk like that. All energy, all the time.
This pretty much sums up Westbrook's night:
There isn't that much overall to speak of Splash-Brothers-wise, as Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined to shoot 4-19 from three -- maybe as a result of nerves, or the aftereffects of the Three-Point Contest? However, in the first half Curry came out and awed everybody with some of the craziest dribble moves you will ever see.
Something that is always interesting to me is who finishes the game, and whether Coach Kerr would put in his guys to finish if the game got tight. He went with Steph, Westbrook, Chris Paul (who showed off the "yo-yo dribble" Mike Prada described expertly), James Harden, and Marc Gasol. No Klay over the last five minutes of the third quarter; he didn't play the entire fourth quarter. Hmm.
For the losing East side, LeBron James had some INSANE alley-oop dunks. Get this man in the dunk conte...yeah, no. Sorry, NBA fans. Guess we'll all have to "settle" for Zach Lavine for the next five years.
Another interesting tidbit:
As more and more players, coaches, front offices and owners realize the value of three-pointers, you end up setting shooting crazy numbers of three-point shots. Basketball over the past five-to-ten years has grown less position-defined and more spread-out as teams are shooting three-pointers at a record rate. The All-Star Game was the microcosm of basketball at the moment. A combined 133 three-pointers, 48 made -- both All-Star Game records.
An all-around fun game leading into the second half of the season.
Up next for the Warriors: After Thursday's trade deadline, the Spurs and Warriors will play Friday at Oracle on national television. Golden State hasn't faced the Spurs since losing to them way back in November. It'll be interesting to see if the game turns out differently, as the Warriors have turned around their turnover problems and are blitzing the league on offense -- especially at home. For the Spurs, they are finally healthy (if Tim Duncan wasn't run into the ground in his 15 minutes of All-Star Game action). Golden State will have to be at their best both offensively and defensively to beat the defending champion Spurs.