All-Star Extravaganza – Last night’s All-Star game was a record breaking affair. Most points by a team, most three-pointers made/attempted and most combined points were just some of the landmarks broken last night. My pregame choice of Blake Griffin as MVP of the game proved prophetic; at least until the West collapsed down the stretch giving up the final 10 points of the game, losing 163-155. It was Kyrie Irving’s late game heroics(?) and magnificent box score that ended up besting Griffin’s dunk-fest for the award.
Unfortunately, Houston’s dynamic duo didn’t have much impact on the game. Neither James Harden nor Dwight Howard played particularly well, with ESPN Insider Kevin Pelton grading Howard a “B” and Harden a “D”.
It took Howard 13 minutes to grab a game-high 11 rebounds. Putbacks accounted for most of Howard’s eight points, since he missed a long jumper with a foot on the line. Give him credit for three assists, including a touch pass to LaMarcus Aldridge.
Harden took a back seat to the West’s other stars, attempting just seven shots in 24 minutes. When Harden did stand out, it was by fouling Paul George in the act of shooting a 3 late in the game. The West never led again.
The Rockets’ two stars might not have put up very impressive numbers, but in their defense they also never looked overly invested. This game was billed as LeBron vs Durant, and Harden looked perfectly complacent to just hangout and watch the show. And had Dwight Howard run the floor and played as hard as his 24-year old counterpart Blake Griffin, he probably would have had a few more highlights. Although there was one play that stood out for Howard (that I was unable to find a highlight of) when he grabbed an offensive rebound, gave Roy Hibbert the best forearm shiver in his arsenal, and dunked it back home. Harden’s play of the night was featured on Yahoo’s top ten plays of the night by Dan Devine.
Howard also made the list, but as it was the top highlight and featured Dwight getting dusted by Kyrie Irving, I’ll save the big man the indignity and let people who wish to see it click the link.
Terrence Jones also suited up this weekend, albeit for the Rising Stars Challenge. But due to Team Hill-teammate Andre Drummond’s monster performance and the epic shoot-out between Dion Waiters and Tim Hardaway Jr, Jones’ 14 points and six rebounds, like his main-event brethren, didn’t really stand out. Pelton graded TJ a “C”.
The Rockets forward didn’t have to step too far out of his normal role in this game. He was there to catch lobs, rebound, run the floor and finish plays in the paint. In that sense, he did his job. Now, he’ll go back to his regular job doing the same thing alongside Dwight Howard in Houston.
The man just knows his role with playmaking wings and a dominant big man in the same lineup.
Lastly, Rockets’ prospect and Rio Grande Valley star Robert Covington played in the D-League All-Star game and well, lets just say he made an impact.
With six minutes left in a tight NBA Development League All Star game, Rockets rookie Robert Covington had 11 points and had not scored in the second half of a game in which everyone was scoring.
He was just warming up.
When he was through, he had scored 22 of his D-League All Star record 33 points in six minutes, carrying his Prospects team past the Futures stars, 145-142.
Prolific, efficient AND clutch? Granted this was just an exhibition, but that kind of performance can put an undrafted free agent like Covington on the map. He also added six rebounds, two assists and three steals. He shot 4-8 from 3 and 12-23 overall.
The entire game can be seen here. After reviewing the game (Covington’s run starts at about the 1:07:45 mark), Covington made some impressive shots, although he did rim-out an off-the-backboard alley-oop (1:13:15) that would have been the highlight of the home stretch. I’m still not sure if he has the horizontal agility to guard NBA wings on the perimeter, and he would need some serious time in the weight room to ever be a stretch-4, but from the looks of it Covington definitely has a legitimate NBA skill. His smooth stroke would be a useful tool for any team if he can fine-tune the other parts of his game.
— Jason Friedman (@JasonCFriedman) February 17, 2014