You may have picked up on the fact that I had a little trouble getting into the All Star Weekend this year. Maybe it's the fact that having two Los Angeles Clippers as fixtures in the game has become routine. Maybe it's because the Clippers seemed to be ready to really hit their stride just as the weekend arrived. Or maybe I just had better things to do this weekend (it was a pretty good weekend). Whatever the reason, I've never spent less time watching All Star weekend events, and I certainly haven't written much about it (try not at all until now).
Obviously Blake Griffin was pretty spectacular in the game itself. Certain aspects of the game are tailor-made for Griffin. Everyone is looking for the spectacular play, so he's bound to end up on the end of plenty of lob passes. And given that it's an All Star Game, a guy like Griffin who can beat his defender up the floor even when that defender is going full speed is going to get plenty of fast break baskets.
And then there are the things that DON'T favor a player like Griffin in an ASG. When he got his record 19th basket with 4:24 remaining, I knew his night was over. The game was too close, and he just wasn't going to touch the ball again -- which he didn't. The East would be getting back on defense to take away the transition baskets, and the ball would be in the hands of the perimeter players the rest of the way.
Griffin finished the game 19-23. Two of his misses were on his only two three point attempts. One was on a questionable scorer's ruling on a difficult to handle lob pass that was probably more accurately a turnover than a shot. So you could argue that he was 19-20 on real two point attempts. Of course the vast majority of those were dunks, but he did make three mid-range jumpers in there as well. He was great, for what that's worth.
Chris Paul didn't get the start in his original NBA home of New Orleans, but at least West coach Scott Brooks recognized that he needed to play. Paul led all reserves in minutes with 24, and played as many minutes as the man Brooks picked to replace Kobe Bryant in the starting lineup, James Harden. Paul led the West in assists with 13 and was on the floor at the end -- though he also had two key turnovers down the stretch.
But if you care about why the less talented East team beat the West, I think the 40 three pointers they missed (that's missed, not attempted -- they MISSED 40 threes) had something to do with it. Kevin Durant and Steph Curry missed 20 between the two of them.
But it's over, and we can get back to the important stuff. The Clippers are in a virtual three-way tie for third place in the Western Conference, with the second place San Antonio Spurs coming into STAPLES Center tomorrow night. With the Spurs in a very tough stretch of a very long road trip, the Clippers could actually be in second place (or maybe tied for second) by Friday night. Obviously things will have to go right for them, but it's a distinct possibility -- which is pretty amazing considering the number of injuries they've experienced. Of course it starts with beating the Spurs tomorrow night. A win and they're within a game of second -- a loss and they're three back of the Spurs and suddenly in fifth.
So goodbye to All Star Weekend and hello to games that matter. Games that matter a lot.