Archive for the 'All-Star 2011' Category

Kobe Ties Record With 4th All-Star MVP

Could Kobe Bryant’s 12th All-Star game, in which he locked up his fourth MVP award to match Bob Pettit’s all-time record, have been his finest?

His first came way back in 1998, when at 19, he was the youngest All-Star in NBA history. On Sunday afternoon at STAPLES Center it was 13 years later, but his legs looked explosive like they had in the late 90′s.

No. 24 looked more like No. 8 as he rose for an array of dunks from various angles, including a baseline reverse early in the first that may have been the best dunk of a game in which he tallied a personal career high of 37 points.

“He’s one hell of a player,” said Western Coach Gregg Popovich. “He’s Kobe. He does things like that, we shouldn’t be surprised.”

Five dunks, an array of jumpers and drives, two three-pointers and seven free throws helped him along the way to the 37 that were just five points shy of Wilt Chamberlain’s all-time All-Star record of 42 points, set back in 1963.

“Let’s he honest, Kobe had it going, to say the least,” said East Coach Doc Rivers.

Thirty-two of Bryant’s points had already come by the 6:14 mark of the third quarter, enough to surpass his previous personal high of 31 that he scored in both 2002 and 2007. He had little left in the legs after that, but his sustained burst had given the lead a 17-point lead.

“Just being around so many young players gave me so much energy,” said Bryant of his effort. “But in the fourth quarter, I had nothing left. I exceeded my dunk quota for the game.

It wasn’t just the scoring on this day from Bryant, however, as he grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds to go with three assists and three steals. His previous high in boards in an All-Star game was seven, which he grabbed in both 2003 and 2006.

Bryant’s Lakers teammate Pau Gasol chipped in with 17 points and seven rebounds, most critically a tip-in of Bryant’s missed jumper with 53 seconds left, pushing what had been just a two-point lead back to four and eventually locking up a game the West had mostly dominated.

Bryant’s MVP trophy will now go up in what’s already a ridiculous trophy case, but as he explained after the game, it’s now time to focus on getting a different kind of trophy for the third straight season.

“We’re looking forward to it, we’re up for the challenge,” he concluded. “We all can’t wait to get started.”

All-Star 2011 Running Diary

We kept a running log of the All-Star game at STAPLES Center on Sunday afternoon, keeping our eyes specifically trained on Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.

10:07 After three missed jumpers for the West, Bryant hit the first bucket for his squad on a baseline fadeaway.

8:51 Wait, are we back in 1997? Bryant pulled out one of his old dunk contest moves

6:31 Almost as fun for the crowd at STAPLES as Kobe’s swished three moments earlier was an air-balled three-pointer from Ray Allen, who along with fellow Celtics Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo got plenty of boos in pregame intros.

5:38 Bryant had worked up quite a sweat already after seven and a half minutes, posting nine points on 3-of-5 field goals, an assist on Gasol’s first bucket moments after the Spaniard entered for Tim Duncan, two rebounds and two steals. Prior to the game, I figured that if Bryant got going early, he may very well go after his fourth career All-Star MVP award, and that’s what looked to be happening. We’ll keep you posted. By the way … Bob Pettit is the only player in NBA history to win four All-Star MVP awards, with Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan, Shaq and Kobe next with three apiece.

4:13 Gasol’s second dunk came this time from Deron Williams, after Blake Griffin replaced the only starter left on the court, Bryant. East Coach Doc Rivers, meanwhile, had all four of his Celtics on the floor … we’d have to see whether that helped out the East’s defense, facing a 10-point hole (not that 10 points in an All-Star game is in any way daunting).

11:34 Gasol was subbed out for (Kevin Love) after making all three of his shots for six points, plus a board. Nice and easy stuff inside from the Spaniard, who didn’t have to break much of a sweat.

6:46 Bryant returned to the action with the West lead cut to six at 49-43, LeBron James probably leading his East squad in the MVP race with a balanced effort of six points, four dimes and three boards. We should take away a few points from LBJ, however, for randomly jumping on the scorer’s table for the second time.

4:39 Gasol added and assist to his four field goals by finding Kevin Durant for a corner three, allowing the West to re-open a 13-point lead at 58-45. Moments later, Gasol finished off his sixth field goal in as many attempts after some beautiful passing between he and Ginobili, both of whom have their doctorates in basketball.

1:14 Bryant may as well have brought out his No. 8 jersey, rising again this time for a reverse slam to get him to a game-high 17 points. Consider his MVP candidacy in full effect, particularly with the West leading 70-58. He added two more buckets before the half ended, reaching 21 points, good enough to pass Elgin Baylor (218), Julius Erving (221) and Pettit (224) for fourth on the all-time All-Star scoring list. Up next? The Big O, who had 246, Kareem (251) and Jordan (262).

8:57 Bryant’s two free throws pushed his total to 25 points, though the game itself had yet to pick up much of a rhythm, even as the West saw its lead trimmed to four.

6:17 So back came Kobe, first with a transition dunk ahead of going-for-chase-down-block-but-failing LeBron, then a triple to reach 30 points. He’d add another bucket with a stop-and-go move to the hoop, then watch Deron Williams stick a three-pointer to put the West back up by double digits at 95-83.

5:00 One more dunk from Kobe, this time a fierce one-hander, made it a 100-86 lead for the West, and got him nine points away from passing Wilt Chamberlain’s all-time record of 42, established in 1962.

0:00 Gasol got back in the scoring column with a hook shot and 1-of-2 free throws, reaching 15 points and five rebounds, the most he’d scored in an All-Star game with a quarter yet to play. After a slow start, the West rallied to outscore the East 41-36 in the period, building their lead to 117-100. Bryant was still in the driver’s seat for MVP honors.
Continue reading ‘All-Star 2011 Running Diary’

Gasol, L.A. Fall in Shooting Stars Contest

Despite the best efforts of Pau Gasol, Rick Fox and WNBA star Tina Thompson, Team Los Angeles fell short in the Haier Shooting Stars contest, finishing third out of four teams in an event ultimately won by Team Atlanta.

Perhaps the loss didn’t hurt Gasol quite as much as the Lakers’ 2008 Finals loss to Boston, but Fox still joked that he’d have to console the Spaniard in advance of Sunday’s All-Star game.

Gasol went along with the joke for a bit, feigning severe disappointment, but wouldn’t go so far as to promise more practice time spent on his half-court shot.

It was Fox who eventually hit Team L.A.’s half-court heave after 55.8 seconds had expired, which took nine collective attempts. Gasol made his 15 footer and needed only two attempts to hit a top-of-the-key three-pointer, but missed all three of his half-court attempts.

TNT’s Kenny Smith, on the other hand, canned his first half-court attempt for Team Texas before he, Dirk Nowitzki and Roneeka Hodges failed to hit from half court in the final against Al Horford, Steve Smith and Coco Miller of Team Atlanta, who won it on Horford’s hit with 1:10 counted off the clock.

Gasol said he’d do his best to get re-focused heading into tomorrow’s All-Star game, the fourth in his career, but it’s certainly going to be tough.

Kobe the All-Star, From 1998 to 2011

In 1998, 19-year-old Kobe Bryant made his first appearance in the NBA All-Star game as the youngest All-Star in the history of the game.

Thirteen years later, he’s still going strong, starting in the Western Conference back court alongside Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets. It will be the 12th game in which Bryant has played: he was not selected as a 17-year-old rookie; there was no game in 1999; and a left ankle sprain kept him from playing in last season’s contest in Dallas.

To put Bryant’s All-Star run into perspective, several of his Western teammates were wide-eyed little kids when he made his debut.

Blake Griffin was eight years old.

Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love were nine.

“I remember Kobe’s first (All-Star game), when he was squared up against (Michael) Jordan and had the 360 (dunk) and even won the dunk competition the (year before),” said Love after Saturday morning’s practice session. “I was talking to (Kobe and Tim Duncan) in the locker room before hand that this is my first one and they’ve been here 13, 14 times. It’s unbelievable.”

“I remember (Kevin Garnett) throwing him a lob in one of those games,” recalled Durant. “He’s had a long, long, great career. He’s far from over I think, and as a player you can only dream of having a career like that.

“It’s a dream come true playing with one of the best players to ever play the game, have him on the All-Star team, and just going about everything with him. I’m excited.”

Bryant, never one to get crazy with nostalgia, spoke about the extremely high level of talent on his current All-Star team, though not without mentioning the greatness of his 1998 squad. Bryant actually led the West in scoring with 19 points in a 135-114 loss to Jordan’s East team, but fondly recalls looking around the locker room at players like David Robinson, Karl Malone and John Stockton.

The rest of the team: Garnett, Shaquille O’Neal, Jason Kidd, Gary Payton, Vin Baker, Eddie Jones, Mitch Richmond and Nick Van Exel.

How would that squad do against Kobe and teammates like Pau Gasol, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Paul and Dirk Nowitzki? How would 1998, 19-year-old Kobe fare against 2011, 32-year-old Kobe?

Too bad we can only speculate. But that Kobe could very easily end up leading both teams in scoring speaks to quite a run of All-Star seasons that Durant suggested could go on for several more years.

Pau Gasol’s All-Star Media Session

With the Lakers losing three consecutive games heading into the All-Star break, several of the questions to both Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol had to do with the perceived struggles of the Lakers.

Both Bryant and Gasol, however, both said that they remained fully confident, saying that the Lakers felt they’d be able to return to the championship level that’s come out at varying points of this regular season and certainly during the past two playoff runs.

Gasol’s response to a question about what was wrong with the Lakers went as follows: “It’s hard to say. I’m not exactly sure why we lose certain games the way we lose them, but we have to make sure we find that focus and that discipline and play to our level of talent, because right now it seems like we are underachieving a little bit.”

He then explained why he thinks his team will be able to turn it on when they need to: “It’s happened before, even during the season, we’ve had runs where we’re struggling and runs where we turn it on and we’re the team that everyone expects us to be, or we expect ourselves to be. I hope that during these last (25) games of the year we turn it up and we get to the level that we need to be in order to be successful.”

Gasol will be making his third straight and fourth overall appearance as a Western Conference All-Star in Sunday’s contest.

Kobe Bryant’s All-Star Media Session

Below is a summary of Kobe Bryant’s media session on Friday afternoon during Western Conference All-Star availability:

- Bryant was asked the first of many times if he could put a finger on L.A.’s struggles during the last week prior to the All-Star break, responding simply that the team addressed it internally and was well aware of what needed to be done.

- On the event: “I don’t think anything will ever be as big or match the size of the Super Bowl, but this is really turning to be a hell of a show. There’s a lot going on.”

- Bryant explained that there is a little bit of trash talking going amongst the players, but mostly it’s just sharing stories from the first half of the season. As for the game, Bryant echoed comments from anyone who’s ever played in the game by saying that the fourth quarter is when things actually pick up like a real game.

- On if L.A.’s recent struggles are fixable: “Yup, absolutely.” Bryant went on to explain that it’s natural for teams to go through struggles, and that his focus remains only upon figuring things out fully prior to the postseason. He described it as such: “That’s the challenge of playing the game … that’s what brings the excitement, not knowing. Even when you’re rolling and playing extremely well, there’s still the unknown of saying, ‘Well, this could slip from us at any given moment at any game in the series.’ We have a better chance at figuring it out than some of the other teams.”

- The questions that he doesn’t want to hear any more: “Why the Lakers (stink), and where Carmelo is going?”

- Bryant eventually started answering the former question about the Lakers struggles by stating, voice thick with sarcasm, that the Lakers had no chance of winning.

On who’s the most underrated player in the NBA: “Pau Gasol. He is. He just is. He’s extremely versatile. He can pass, he can score, he can post, he can face up, he can block shots. In my opinion, he’s the most underrated player.”

Gasol Joins Bryant on All-Star Team

For the fourth time in his career Pau Gasol has been named to the Western Conference All-Star team.

Gasol has averaged a double-double on the season with 18.4 points and 10.6 rebounds to go along with 3.7 assists and 1.92 blocks per game while starting games at both center and power forward.

Pau made his All-Star debut in 2006 in Houston but failed to record a point as he went 0-for-3 from the field in just under 15 minutes of play but did grab a game-high 12 rebounds for the West. Since then he’s gone for double-digit points in both appearances, tallying 14 in Phoenix in 2009 and 13 last year at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas.

The 60th All-Star Game will be played at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 20.

Kobe = All-Star Starter, Again

That Kobe Bryant will be elected as an All-Star starter for the 13th consecutive season was a foregone conclusion, particularly after the NBA announced that he led all players with 1,757,216 votes after the fourth round of ballot returns.

During Thursday night’s special All-Star Selection Show on TNT, it was announced that Bryant will indeed start at guard for the Western Conference, where he’ll represent the Lakers in front of a hometown crowd for the second time in his career (2004).

Bryant finished with 2,380,016 votes, and with his 13th straight selection, is only one behind record holders Jerry West, Karl Malone and Shaquille O’Neal, earning 14 consecutive nods apiece.

It will be the 12th A.S. game in which Bryant plays, as he missed last year’s contest due to a sprained left ankle. To account for the other two seasons in his career: he didn’t make it as a rookie, and there was no All-Star game in 1999. Bryant made his debut in 1998 as the youngest All-Star in NBA history, and last led all vote-getters in 2003.

This marks the fourth straight season in which Bryant led the Western Conference in All-Star balloting. Last season, he Bryant received 2,456,224 votes, finishing second overall to Cleveland’s LeBron James (2,549,693). In 2008-09, his number was punched 2,805,397 times, placing him third in overall balloting behind Dwight Howard (3,150,181) and James (2,940,823). Back in 2007-08, Bryant garnered 2,004,940 votes to finish fourth in overall voting behind Kevin Garnett (2,399,148), James (2,108,831) and Howard (2,066,991).

Bryant has won All-Star MVP honors three times, first in 2002 (Philadelphia), then in 2007 (Las Vegas) and finally in 2009 (Phoenix), when he shared the trophy with Shaquille O’Neal.

Fourth All-Star Returns


The latest All-Star returns have been released and a Laker still sits at the top of the heap.

Kobe Bryant leads all vote getters with more than 1.75 million votes. Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum held their previous positions at third and second respectively. Lamar Odom also remains in the mix at the forward position.

Voting closes January 23rd. You can vote on or through mobile phones by texting the player’s last name to 6-9-6-2-2 (“MYNBA”) or by visiting on any wireless carrier.


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Forwards: Kevin Durant (OKC) 1,270,729; Carmelo Anthony (Den) 945,720; Pau Gasol (LAL) 851,456; Blake Griffin (LAC) 702,784; Tim Duncan (SA) 663,487; Dirk Nowitzki (Dal) 615,243; Lamar Odom (LAL) 364,950; Luis Scola (Hou) 347,986; Kevin Love (Min) 301,529; Caron Butler (Dal) 205,146.

Guards: Kobe Bryant (LAL) 1,757,216; Chris Paul (NOH) 949,049; Manu Ginobili (SA) 593,718; Steve Nash (Pho) 522,215; Deron Williams (Utah) 487,887; Russell Westbrook (OKC) 463,250; Tony Parker (SA) 355,993; Jason Kidd (Dal) 303,164; Vince Carter (Pho) 277,430; Kevin Martin (Hou) 266,037.

Centers: Yao Ming (Hou) 928,928; Andrew Bynum (LAL) 660,576; Nene (Den) 389,263; Marc Gasol 352,136; Emeka Okafor (NOH) 317,677; Brendan Haywood (Dal) 276,777; Marcus Camby (Por) 201,133; Chris Kaman (LAC) 165,684; Andris Biedrins (GS) 126,567; DeMarcus Cousins (Sac) 110,230.


Forwards: LeBron James (Mia) 1,518,807; Amar’e Stoudemire (NYK) 1,143,391; Kevin Garnett (Bos) 1,049,544; Paul Pierce (Bos) 578,473; Chris Bosh (Mia) 427,551; Carlos Boozer (Chi) 320,661; Josh Smith (Atl) 280,158; Danilo Gallinari (NYK) 259,619; Danny Granger (Ind) 201,653; Luol Deng (Chi) 191,312.

Guards: Dwyane Wade (Mia) 1,499,768; Derrick Rose (Chi) 1,225,575; Rajon Rondo (Bos) 1,171,311; Ray Allen (Bos) 630,588; John Wall (Was) 260,893; Brandon Jennings (Mil) 254,614; Raymond Felton (NYK) 246,208; Gilbert Arenas (Orl) 240,586; Jamal Crawford (Atl) 163,971, Darren Collison (Ind) 156,230.

Centers: Dwight Howard (Orl) 1,537,619; Shaquille O’Neal (Bos) 639,661; Joakim Noah (Chi) 291,107; Andrew Bogut (Mil) 245,253; Al Horford (Atl) 193,449; Roy Hibbert (Ind) 183,092; Andrea Bargnani (Tor) 162,364; Brook Lopez (NJ) 125,022; JaVale McGee (Was) 106,710; Ben Wallace (Det) 79,017.

Third All-Star Voting Returns

The latest All-Star voting returns show more of the same; Kobe on top.

Bryant continues to lead all vote getters by a healthy margin with a total of over 1.39 million. Pau Gasol remained third at forward trailing Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony, while Andrew Bynum is still second at center behind Yao Ming.

(If an injured player is voted to start, commissioner David Stern chooses an injury replacement for the roster and the conference’s coach tabs a reserve to start)

Voting online remains open for another 17 days. Make a push for Pau by voting now. CLICK HERE TO VOTE NOW!!!

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Forwards: Kevin Durant (OKC) 945,944; Carmelo Anthony (Den) 742,284; Pau Gasol (LAL) 702,859; Tim Duncan (SA) 551,226; Blake Griffin (LAC) 540,701; Dirk Nowitzki (Dal) 518,682; Lamar Odom (LAL) 285,667; Luis Scola (Hou) 258,407; Kevin Love (Min) 233,273; Caron Butler (Dal) 186,626.

Guards: Kobe Bryant (LAL) 1,391,597; Chris Paul (NOH) 724,605; Manu Ginobili (SA) 504,123; Steve Nash (Pho) 397,975; Deron Williams (Utah) 384,515; Russell Westbrook (OKC) 327,453; Tony Parker (SA) 298,771; Jason Kidd (Dal) 260,569; Vince Carter (Pho) 228,698; Eric Gordon (LAC) 190,636.

Centers: Yao Ming (Hou) 754,583; Andrew Bynum (LAL) 493,237; Nene (Den) 292,829; Marc Gasol 263,000; Brendan Haywood (Dal) 245,737; Emeka Okafor (NOH) 227,621; Chris Kaman (LAC) 148,389; Marcus Camby (Por) 148,322; Andris Biedrins (GS) 91,600; Robin Lopez (Pho) 81,148.


Forwards: LeBron James (Mia) 1,194,091; Kevin Garnett (Bos) 850,687; Amar’e Stoudemire (NYK) 826,628; Paul Pierce (Bos) 465,270; Chris Bosh (Mia) 334,921; Josh Smith (Atl) 225,951; Carlos Boozer (Chi) 222,431; Danilo Gallinari (NYK) 168,519; Danny Granger (Ind) 158,836; Andre Iguodala (Phi) 150,840.

Guards: Dwyane Wade (Mia) 1,167,649; Rajon Rondo (Bos) 929,781; Derrick Rose (Chi) 917,753; Ray Allen (Bos) 494,489; John Wall (Was) 212,238; Gilbert Arenas (Orl) 193,056; Brandon Jennings (Mil) 172,076; Raymond Felton (NYK) 144,707; Jamal Crawford (Atl) 123,531, Joe Johnson (Atl) 119,455.

Centers: Dwight Howard (Orl) 1,205,159; Shaquille O’Neal (Bos) 506,621; Joakim Noah (Chi) 197,407; Andrew Bogut (Mil) 159,560; Al Horford (Atl) 149,908; Roy Hibbert (Ind) 133,416; Andrea Bargnani (Tor) 126,185; Brook Lopez (NJ) 104,784; JaVale McGee (Was) 82,650; Ben Wallace (Det) 61,051.