Feb 18, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
Four days in New Orleans left me about 20 pounds heavier (at least it feels that way, time to mix in a salad) and with a notebook full of thoughts and tidbits that didn’t find their way into other posts. So, here is a notebook dump.
• Paul George said after the All-Star Game Frank Vogel’s plan was to put him on Chris Paul — particularly down the stretch — and force the ball out of his hands, even if that meant the ball went to Kevin Durant because LeBron James would pressure him. It worked.
• The other thing that sparked the East comeback — Joakim Noah in the paint. His play allowed pressure on the wings. Vogel said he thought about going back to Roy Hibbert in the paint, but Noah was playing so well he stuck with the hot hand.
• Frank Vogel told his team in the second half they needed to get back and play defense. “They all laughed at me,” he said. “I did say it with half a smile, and they all laughed at me.”
• Yes, the dunk contest needs a lot of work — the new format does not work. You can be sure the league saw the reaction to All-Star Saturday and realize things didn’t work. To me the ultimate problem is that ultimately the Dunk Contest, the Skills Competition, the Three Point Shooting contests are individual events and trying to shoehorn them into a made-up East/West competition just dulls the whole thing down.
• Here’s my idea for fixing the Dunk Contest: I liked the head-to-head idea, but if you’re going to do that go all the way. Invite eight dunkers (maybe include the winner of the D-League Dunk Contest), have them dunk once to seed them 1-8, then just have an eight man dunk tournament. The weird format in place Saturday, how it ended seemed sudden. A tournament, that we get. And the winner has to do multiple dunks under pressure.
• If you’re complaint is “there’s not enough defense in the All-Star Game” get over it. This is an exhibition.
• James Harden with an honest answer about how close the Rockets are to contending: “To be honest I’m not sure. We’re feeling pretty good, we’re on a winning streak, it may take another step or two but we’re gonna figure it out and we’re gonna play hard.”
• Trombone Shorty just rocks.
• Gary Clark Jr.’s national anthem rendition was spectacular.
• Stephen Curry on the Warriors in the second half: “We learned a lot and obviously we haven’t played to our potential so far, when it comes to playing at home and playing to our potential. Those experience toughened us up, we’re a team that’s going to come back.”
• Most surreal moment of the weekend for me: Pushed the elevator button in my hotel to go down to the lobby, the door opens and there stands Artis Gilmore.
• Dwyane Wade on taking it easy All-Star weekend: “I actually got it from other vets and how they approached the All-Star Game, how they let the younger guys kind of go out there and enjoy themselves and get feel for the game and have fun. So you know me I just kind of chilled a little bit, did a little less than I normally did, and just really enjoyed the weekend.”
- Breaking down Western Conference playoff chase with two weeks left in season 3
- Breaking down Eastern Conference playoff chase with two weeks left in season 4
- Five Things We Learned in NBA Sunday: Dwyane Wade is going to will Heat into playoffs 10
- Sad news: Craig Sager announces his cancer has returned 15
- NBA players’ union head believes new labor deal can be reached without a work stoppage 9
- Kendrick Perkins says you’re blowing the LeBron James/Kevin Love thing way out of proportion 22
- Mark Cuban rips officials, NBA: ‘It’s criminal’ how Monta Ellis doesn’t get calls 25
- Shaquille O’Neal says he regrets leaving Magic for Lakers 43