As a game of basketball, the NBA All-Star extravaganza is quite silly. This is fact. (I feel silly saying it, actually.) The players are mostly just moseying up and down the court. For the fans, the novelty is great at first before a certain lethargy sets in for the second and third quarters. And then, of course, there is the sudden exertions (and thrills) of the fourth, when the team's decide to compete. It's almost a routine.
There were two dominant narratives in the All-Star game this year. The first was, of course, the send-off for Kobe Bryant. Since that story has been written about enough to become a beat in and of itself, I'll stick with the second: Toronto's role in the show.
The pre-show excitement began with a Cirque du Soleil routine which, I mean, was technically proficient if a little confused. Then we got the obligatory Kobe tribute. Then the player introductions which, it should definitely be mentioned, were not done by Drake. He was there to give each player a hug and some daps. It was an odd choice. Speaking of odd choices, we were also treated to an extended tribute to James Naismith, which was delightfully corny -- not Heritage Moment corny, but close -- and then the actual grandson of basketball's inventor was trotted out during a break in the game. What a scene.
Now, onto the game itself. No one played any kind of defense (except maybe Kawhi Leonard), and the game was sloppy as all hell. Since we're a Raptors blog, it makes sense to cover what the Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, Toronto's two representatives, did in the game. First up, Kyle Lowry.
Kyle Lowry has the game's only blocked shot so far.— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) February 15, 2016
Lowry also shot 4-for-8 in the first half with three 3-pointers for 11 points, with an additional four assists and two rebounds. But he didn't try to take any charges however.
Coming off the bench, DeRozan shot 4-of-7 in the first half for eight points and couldn't manage to drop any 3s (which was a bit sad). He did do this, however:
DeMar DeRozan with the reverse 360 dunk. https://t.co/HOLJkoFMJS— RealGM (@RealGM) February 15, 2016
Your insane halftime score was 92-90 for the West. We pause now for a Sting break.
what makes the sting crazy is there probably have never been as many active canadian music superstars as there are right now— ☕netw3rk (@netw3rk) February 15, 2016
Back to the game.
The Raptors-centric highlights of the third quarter came when DeRozan flipped in a beautiful reverse lay-up and drew the foul. Just a perfect bit of on brand play from DeMar. The score heading into the third though was a wild 145-136 for the West. By the eight minute mark of the fourth, there was this interesting stat:
Next score for the West gives them the record for most points in an All-Star Game. 163 had been done twice previously.— Brian Mahoney (@briancmahoney) February 15, 2016
If the story and recap so far feel disjointed it's because that's how this game felt. It's bewildering the amount of things that happen in the NBA All-Star game. There's the relentless up-and-down of the game itself, sure, but also the endless stream of highlight reel plays and the constant buzz of some new announcement, act or activity at every break in play. When you're watching it on TV, commercials allow some reprieve, oddly, but here there is just the ongoing stream of stimuli in the immediate environment.
Ultimately Kobe's grand send-off didn't amount to much. He faced off against LeBron once and joshed with Andre Drummond. He even airballed a sky hook, just for the laughs I assume. There was a nice ovation for him and chants of "Kobe" as he walked off the floor for the final time. By that point, the game was out of reach for the East.
Russell Westbrook, by the way, won the MVP for the game, with 31-8-5 line plus five steals. He also somehow managed to take 17 threes. He's won the award now two times in a row.
For their parts, DeRozan and Lowry finished with 18 and 14 points apiece. Lowry added 10 assists, while DeRozan provided some fantastic dunks. They got to do it all in front of their home town fans. What was the main takeaway for all the other All-Stars coming through Toronto?
"I think everyone got the feel of the energy that we witness every single night when we play as Raptors players," said DeRozan.
Lowry to DeRozan. We made it.— Raptors HQ (@RaptorsHQ) February 15, 2016
It may have been all over the place in the game and in the city, but there was no denying that.
What did you guys think of the game?