Archive for the 'All-Star 2013' Category

Kobe’s D Helps West Nab Win

With the Western Conference All-Stars nursing an eight-point lead late in the fourth quarter, Kobe Bryant fought around a screen and swatted LeBron James going to his left at the peak of his jump shot.

The block led to an easy dunk for Kevin Durant on the other end, extending their lead to double digits. Minutes later, Bryant pressured James 90 feet up the court along the left sideline, then blocked his shot attempt as he rose up from just outside the paint.

Bryant’s defense in the final minutes allowed the West to pull away from the East and win 143-138 – their third straight victory over their counterparts.

“Just taking the challenge and defending a little bit,” he said postgame. “When the game gets close, it’s fun. I enjoy it.”

Starting in an NBA-record 15th All-Star game, Bryant finished with nine points, eight assists, two steals and two blocks in 28 minutes. The Philly native played the role of facilitator early, recording seven assists in 14 first-half minutes, while attempting just five field goals towards five points. In the fourth quarter, though, he attacked on one particular play, crossing over Miami’s Chris Bosh, while laying in the ball off the glass going to his right.

Lakers center Dwight Howard, in his seventh All-Star appearance, played 14 minutes, but grabbed a team-high seven rebounds to go along with nine points. He scored off three dunks while also drilling a 3-pointer in the third quarter. Of more importance, the big man managed to keep his shoulder and back healthy.

James recently became the first player in NBA history to record at least 30 points and shoot 60 percent from the floor in six straight games, a streak that was snapped on Thursday vs. Oklahoma City before All-Star weekend. On this night, though, Bryant’s defense helped limit the three-time MVP to 7 for 18 from the floor towards 19 points.

Asked what his favorite part of this particular game, the five-time NBA champion responded: “Defending at the end. Just the challenge of doing what everybody deems impossible. That’s the fun part.”

Kobe Post All-Star Game Quotes

Kobe Bryant took questions from assembled media members after the All-Star game, where he talked about his defense on LeBron James, as well as his thoughts on the second half of the Lakers season. Here’s what he had to say:

Q: On his defense on LeBron James in the closing minutes:
Bryant: Just taking the challenge and defending a little bit. When the game gets close, it’s fun. I enjoy it.

Q: On what was said between him and James late in the game:
Bryant: I didn’t want him to score on me. Damn it. I gave him two free throws down there. It was a great, great post move.

Q: On the intensity in the beginning of the game compared to the final minutes:
Bryant: The last eight minutes is always more intense. I think the last eight minutes of the game is what fans really want to see. They want to see that competitive spirit. All in all, I think we gave them a pretty good show. It was competitive throughout.

Q: On if James said anything to him after his two blocks:
Bryant: He really didn’t say much. He said I fouled him. I told him I pretty much foul every play. I’m an ‘80’s baby. That’s what we do.

Q: On his favorite part in the game:
Bryant: Defending at the end. Just the challenge of doing what everybody deems impossible. That’s the fun part.

Q: On taking a leadership role in the All-Star game:
Bryant: I talk with the guys a lot. I’m more vocal now than I have been in the past. I do a lot of talking with the young fellas who like to pick my brain with some of the nuances of the game in different areas I’ve learned throughout my career. I enjoy that aspect of it.

Q: On Chris Paul closing the game:
Bryant: I love Chris. He’s intense and he’s a heck of a competitor. I enjoyed spending time with him this weekend even though they served us up pretty good before we got down here. He’s just a great competitor.

Q: On which player he’s enjoyed defending most over the years in All-Star games:
Bryant: Being in the league this long and playing in so many All-Star games, I’ve seen many generations. I’ve pretty much seen three generations. My first All-Star game having to guard Michael (Jordan) was like a dream come true for me. He took me to school several times, but I learned quite a bit. Then going on to Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter and Allen Iverson and that whole crew. Now to LeBron, Dwyane Wade and some of those other guys. I’ve seen three generations.

Q: On if he considers his defensive performance late in the game as a signature defensive moment for him:
Bryant: I don’t know if it was signature. I’m known for my defense and I can defend. I’m pretty smart about how I defend. I don’t know if it was signature or not.

Q: On how much he expects the Lakers to improve in the second half of the season:
Bryant: Well, I think we’ve been playing pretty well coming into the break. We laid a couple eggs there against the Celtics and Clippers. But all in all, we’ve been playing pretty well – much better than we have been. We just got to continue to improve and I think we’ll do much better in the second half.

Q: On if he’s adjusted his game in terms of him facilitating:
Bryant: I think you see a comfort level where I do both. As a team, we see that and understand that we still need my scoring, but we also need me to facilitate and do both. The passing and getting everybody involved takes precedence.

Q: On trying to refocus his attention on trying to get the Lakers to the playoffs after All-Star weekend:
Bryant: My switch never went off. It never went off. It was on all weekend. It was good to see the guys, but at the same time, there’s an undercurrent that happened in the first half of the season that I just won’t let go. Come Wednesday, we have to be ready to go.

Dwight Quotes From Houston

Dwight Howard took questions from assembled media members on Friday afternoon from All-Star festivities in Houston. Here’s a transcription of what he had to say:

Q: On Joakim Noah’s season and this year being his first All-Star appearance:
Howard: I’m happy for him. I’m happy for Joakim. We played against each other since we were in 10th grade. To see him grow from the player he was then till now … before that, Joakim was a water boy and towel boy, and didn’t play much basketball. He kept working and all his hard work is paying off, so I’m really happy for him.

Q: On how his shoulder feels:
Howard: My shoulder is getting a lot better. The only thing I can do for it right now is to continue to rehab and continue to strengthen it. It’s torn, so it’s not going to change.

Q: On re-aggravating the injury in the All-Star game:
Howard: Not really. I don’t think guys are going to try and intentionally foul me to put on the line in the All-Star game. I think I’ll be fine.

Q: On trying to get acclimated to playing with Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant this season in such a short period of time:
Howard: It’s tough because all of us have been the primary guys on our teams since we’ve been in the NBA. Now we really have to learn how to play together, share and sacrifice a part of our game to help the team. A lot of that takes time, and unfortunately, we’ve paid the price for it by losing some games. We got to figure out a way to do it, and do it fast.

Q: On playing with Jameer Nelson in Orlando and their success playing together:
Howard: That took time. We had to develop that. We didn’t have that right away. Over the years, it got better. As we got older and wiser, it started to work for us. But when we first got together, the pick-and-roll didn’t work. None of that stuff worked, but as we grew, we got better at it.

Q: On his off-the-court role with the Lakers now in terms of his leadership as opposed to his role in Orlando:
Howard: Same way. I’m pushing guys to continue to train and guys that don’t play a lot to continue to work on their games. Keep getting better, keep pushing and keep everybody at a happy place so we can get better every day.

Q: On the challenges this season with the Lakers and if it’s helped him grow into a better leader off the court:
Howard: Think so. I’ve had to really take a step back and see what I can do to help my teammates out and also help myself out.

Q: On Michael Jordan’s impact on the game:
Howard: Everybody wanted to be “Like Mike.” He’s amazing. Everything he did, he inspired everybody to be a better basketball player and a better (person). That’s why I enjoyed watching him play.

Q: On the Houston Rockets and the season they’re having so far:
Howard: I like their team. They’re a great team, they’re young, they play hard, they’re scrappy and they play together. Everything they do has been great. It’s fun to watch them. They’re one of the teams that you can tell in a few years they’re going to be really good.

Q: On if he can relate to Deron Williams’ struggles this year in terms of his injuries:
Howard: It takes time to heal. It’s stuff we have to deal with and it’s hard to sometimes overcome injuries right away. It takes a lot of time. Ankles are different from backs, but it takes time.

Q: On how he’s managed to deal with everything this season from his injuries to the team’s season thus far:
Howard: I just try to stay away from the tube and do as much as I can to rehab my shoulder, my back and my mind. I just really get away everything when I’m not playing basketball.

Q: On what he’s looking forward to this All-Star weekend:
Howard: I’m looking forward to the dunk contest and the game itself. Playing on the West is different. I’m usually playing with LeBron (James) and Dwyane Wade and all those guys. Playing with Kevin Durant and all those guys is going to be fun. It’s going to be a battle.

Q: On who he thinks will win the 3-point shooting contest and slam dunk contest:
Howard: Ryan Anderson. He’s back in it and I think he’ll win it this year. The dunk contest … I think Gerald Green is going to go back and win it. Him and James White will go at it. It’s going to be fun.

Howard took questions from assembled media members on Saturday prior to practice. Here’s a transcription of what he had to say:

Q: On his message to Michael Jordan turning 50 years old:
Howard: Health, happiness and love to Michael Jordan on his birthday. I think that’s what we all want is our health and happiness – that’s the biggest thing. I’m happy for him.

Q: On if Jordan is somebody you can still look up to and aspire to be:
Howard: Oh yeah, no doubt. He’s the best. He’s at the top. I enjoy him and enjoy what he’s done to the game and for the game.

Q: On if he’s had the chance to rest during this weekend:
Howard: There’s no chance for us to rest and relax. We’ve been working since we’ve been here. Even though it’s All-Star weekend, it’s a great time for us to get with fans. If we have kids, we get an opportunity to take our kids around and let them see All-Star weekend.

Q: On if he’s excited for the pregame introductions before the All-Star game:
Howard: I know last year being with LeBron (James) and those guys, they wanted to do a dance and have fun, but I don’t know about the guys in the West yet. We’ll see how that goes.

Q: On his favorite pregame introduction at an All-Star game:
Howard: Last year was pretty cool in Orlando. The year where we came up the ground was pretty cool (in Dallas). Each year they find something crazy and exciting.

Q: On Pau Gasol and what he brings to the table:
Howard: He’s a four man who can shoot the ball and pass the ball very well. He’s a great post up player. He’s a great player.

Q: On if any of the criticism directed towards Gasol has been unfair this year:
Howard: We’re always going to get criticized when we don’t perform to the level people feel like we should perform. We know how important he is to our team, he knows how important he is and we know what he can do. There’s no need for us to feel any different about him.

Q: On what he sees from the Lakers in the second half of the season:
Howard: We got a great opportunity to make a statement and get better. Our last couple games have been pretty good. The last loss we had was bad, but other than that, we’ve been playing a lot better.

Q: On Tyson Chandler’s game :
Howard: He’s the Knicks defensive anchor. He plays hard, blocks shots and rebounds. That’s all they ask (of) him and he does a good job at it.

Q: On Derrick Rose’s comments about possibly not returning this season:
Howard: He has to play when he’s ready. He can’t risk his career or what other people think and what he should do. He should come back and play when he’s totally ready.

Q: On what it means to him to be a role model for young children:
Howard: It’s amazing. I’m happy kids look up to me and I’m going to do whatever I can to inspire those kids.

Q: On his thoughts about being voted to another All-Star game:
Howard: It’s a humbling experience and I’m happy to be a part of All-Star weekend. I always thank the fans for voting for me to be here. It’s a blessing and an honor.

Kobe Quotes From Houston

Kobe Bryant took questions from assembled media members on Friday afternoon from All-Star festivities in Houston. Here’s a transcription of what he had to say:

Q: On Michael Jordan’s impact on the game:
Bryant: The imprint he’s had on the league, he’s an immortal. Everything that he’s done from the business aspect to his professionalism to his work ethic to the global (build) of the game has been something that carries on for generations and generations.

Q: On what the 76ers get in Andrew Bynum:
Bryant: A phenomenal player. He’s extremely, extremely skilled.

Q: On playing with Dirk Nowitzki in past All-Star games and not having him this year:
Bryant: I miss having Dirk (Nowitzki) around. That’s for sure. A lot of the younger players here, it’s their first time, and they get an opportunity to step up and play in these All-Star games, which is great. I don’t think Dirk minds.

Q: On his thoughts to all his fans overseas who support him on China’s micro-blogging site Sina Weibo:
Bryant: Thank you very much for all your support. I’m really enjoying it. I get a chance to communicate with them and give them an inside look at some of the things going on in my life, so thank you.

Q: On his experience with Twitter thus far:
Bryant: It’s been fun. I enjoy the dialogue back and forth and the bantering. I enjoy it all.

Q: On how he will decide when it’s time to walk away from the game:
Bryant: I think you just know. For me, it’s pretty simple. If I just want to walk away, I’ll walk away. I think it’s just something you feel and decide.

Q: On the panic level in Los Angeles:
Bryant: The panic level has been there since the start of the preseason. Everybody has been on edge all year. We’ve been playing well lately, so that kind of eased the pain a little bit. Last night doesn’t help, but we’ll come back after the All-Star break ready to go.

Q: On if this All-Star weekend is a retreat for him:
Bryant: I don’t know if it’s a retreat. It’s just more of an opportunity to get some rest, regroup, put the first half of the season behind us and move on.

Q: On his All-Star experiences thus far and if the routine gets boring:
Bryant: I brought my daughter to work today and she gets to see how exciting this is, to sit here and answer these questions. At this stage, it’s really just about enjoying it as much as you can with your family and enjoying the experience.

Q: On LeBron James’ year:
Bryant: He’s playing phenomenal basketball. You have that moment where your physical talent, the mental part of the game, all of it comes together. What you’re seeing down in Miami is something that’s truly special.

Q: On the rivalry between the Eastern and Western Conferences:
Bryant: I think it’s great. It’s great for sports. Everybody picks their sides and off we go. That’s the beautiful thing about sports in general.

Q: On Michael Jordan’s comments about taking Kobe over LeBron:
Bryant: It’s something we all know. In terms of winning championships, it’s the most important thing. That’s what it all comes down to. That’s why we all make sacrifices. That’s what I knew coming into the league. You have to win titles to sit at that same lunch table as Magic (Johnson) and Michael (Jordan) and so forth. LeBron (James) knows that and it’s a challenge he’s willing to accept.

Q: On his thoughts about Derrick Rose not coming back this year:
Bryant: I think if he’s not healthy enough to come back, that’s the absolute right decision. There’s no reason to rush. He has a long career ahead of himself and he’s dealing with a very serious injury. Hopefully he’s using Adrian Peterson as an inspiration to see what he’s been able to do coming back from a knee injury. If he doesn’t come back this season, I’m sure he’ll be ready to go next year.

Q: On if it’s more mental or physical coming back from a serious injury like that:
Bryant: I think it’s a little bit of both. Once you get past the physical limitations, then it becomes mental because you get concerned about a tweak here and there and reinjuring it. But he’ll be fine.

Bryant took questions from assembled media members on Saturday prior to practice. Here’s a transcription of what he had to say:

Q: On his excitement level to play in Brazil in next season:
Bryant: Yeah, it’s a hot spot for basketball. I grew up in Italy and I enjoyed watching Oscar Schmidt play. He’s always kind of been an idol of mine. I think it’s great for Brazil to start having (games).

Q: On if he’s spoken to Schmidt before:
Bryant: Yeah, quite a bit. I speak to him during the summer when he comes out for the Olympics and he does interviews. I had a chance to catch up with him. I really, really watched him a lot when I was a kid.

Q: On Michael Jordan turning 50 years old:
Bryant: Time absolutely flies. Him turning 50 on Sunday and this being my 17th year and my 15th All-Star game … where did the time go?

Q: On Sacramento Kings guard Isaiah Thomas’ game:
Bryant: He has fantastic potential. He’s extremely quick, crafty and an outside game. He can get to the rim as well, so I think he has tremendous upside.

Q: On if he has any advice for him:
Bryant: Just keep working and try to perfect your craft as much as you can. Perfect your strengths and try to match them.