All-Star Game Review: What we saw . . .

683586.jpg

All-Star Game Review: What we saw . . .

ORLANDO, Fla. The legend of LeBron James not closing out games continues. Despite having a really strong game all night, a costly turnover late in the game by James proved costly, as the West hung on for a 152-149 win.

James had 36 points, six rebounds and seven assists in leading the East. But it was his fourth and final turnover, an errant cross-court pass picked off by Blake Griffin, that folks will remember in a game that really didn't pick up until the fourth quarter.

It's not just fans who get on James when he makes those kind of end-of-the-game mistakes.

Following the turnover, West perennial All-Star Kobe Bryant had some words for him as well.

"He (Bryant) was telling me to shoot it," James said. "I seen my teammate open for a split-second, I told him I seen him open the first time and I didn't release the ball. When I tried to throw it late, that's what usually happens and it results in a turnover. Definitely wish I could have that one back."

James' late-game turnover was certainly one of the factors in the game's outcome. We examined some prior to tip-off. Here we'll take a look and see how those factors played out.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR - With Dwight Howard demanding a trade earlier this year, it'll be interesting to see just how the fans will embrace him. So far, Magic fans have shown him nothing but love. And to Howard's credit, he told the media immediately upon the interview sessions that he's only answering all-star related questions this weekend. Still, if you see him on the break and he's catching lob dunk after lob dunk from New Jersey's Deron Williams (who is trying to convince him to come to New Jersey next season), how's that gonna play out with the Magic fans at the game?

WHAT WE SAW - Dwight Howard said all the right things before the game, but didn't exactly seem all that engaged during the game. In fact, it seemed as though he went out of his way to not score. He finished with nine points and 10 rebounds. Big men rarely put up big numbers in all-star games, but nine points from the most dominate center in the NBA? Unacceptable, even in an All-Star game setting.

MATCHUP TO WATCH - LeBron James vs Kevin Durant: Not only are they among the NBA's best scorers, they're arguably the two front-runners for the league MVP award this season. In addition to James having an edge in statistics this season, the Heat may finish with a better record in what's turning out to be an unprecedented season of success in Miami.

WHAT WE SAW - James and Durant went back and fourth for most of the night, with each finishing with 36 points. Durant, who also had seven rebounds, three steals and three assists, was named MVP in part because of the win, but also in coming through with clutch plays down the stretch while James committed a costly turnover in the game's closing moments to help seal the fate of the East team. "It's just exciting to be named an All-Star," Durant said. "But to step it up another level and become MVP, it's only something that as a kid you dream about. Coming from where I come from, I didn't think I would be here. Everything has just been a blessing to me. I'm excited."

PLAYER TO WATCH - As an Eastern Conference All-Star replacement, it'll be interesting to see how much Rajon Rondo plays tonight. Most of the All-Star veterans like to take it easy unless they have it going offensively. That's not likely to happen with Rondo, who will most likely do what Rondo does best - pass to guys who want to score.

WHAT WE SAW - It didn't take Rondo long to find fellow All-Stars in position to score. Despite playing just under 16 minutes, Rondo finished with eight assists. "I had a good experience," Rondo said. "It's always an honor to be named an All-Star. And I had fun. I spent a lot of time with my family; I enjoyed myself."

STAT TO TRACK - Scoring is, as expected, higher than usual in the all-star game. But there's one number that all but guarantees you a win - at least it has the past few years. The last three winners scored at least 140 points.

WHAT WE SAW - True to form, this was yet another high-scoring All-Star game with both teams cracking the 140-point plateau. This was the second year in a row, and fifth time since the first All-Star game in 1951, that both teams eclipsed the 140-point plateau.

Pastrnak's two goals lead Bruins past Panthers, 4-3

Pastrnak's two goals lead Bruins past Panthers, 4-3

BOSTON – The Bruins are undefeated this season when they manage to cobble together three goals in a game. 

It took a little extra as David Pastrnak knifed through former BC defenseman Mike Matheson in overtime for his second goal of the game, and his 15th of the season, to take a 4-3 win over the Panthers at TD Garden. 

It was thought the final offensive push they needed took place in the third period when Ryan Spooner hopped on the David Krejci line with David Backes, and fired a shot at the Boston net that Backes redirected through Roberto Luongo for his seventh of the season. 

But the Panthers tied it up on a Demers goal late in the third period, and that set up Pastrnak’s brilliant one-on-one move for the game-winner for the Black and Gold. 

The Bruins led off the scoring on a nice play by Tim Schaller winning a battle to enter the Florida zone, and then circling around behind the net before burying a one-timer from the slot as he crashed the net to connect with a David Krejci dish headed straight his way. 

The Panthers tied it a period later when the legend, Jaromir Jagr, buried a chance from the slot after his line had hemmed in the David Krejci line and Torey Krug/Adam McQuaid pairing for an extended shift in the Boston zone. It was goal No. 754 of Jagr’s brilliant NHL career as he continues to go strong for the Panthers, and it also tied the game 1-1. 

The Bruins looked like they might haven the lead for good on David Pastrnak’s 14th goal of the season, but it wasn’t mean to be. Pastrnak started it all by protecting a puck and retaining possession from his knees in the corner of the offensive zone. Eventually Patrice Bergeron fired a puck wide of the net, and Brad Marchand unleashed a spinning, no-look pass to a waiting Pastrnak for the easy score past Roberto Luongo. 

The Panthers tied it a second time in the third period when Reilly Smith stripped a puck from Patrice Bergeron going up the center of the ice, and eventually it found its way to Aleksander Barkov for a ripped shot from long distance for his fourth goal of the season. 

Then Florida tied it again in the final minutes of the third on a Jason Demers rebound bid after Mike Matheson’s shot went wide of the net and took a wild carom off the end boards in the exact opposite direction. 

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics struggling with three-pointers

celtics_rockets_avery_bradley_120516.jpg

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics struggling with three-pointers

You knew the 3-point shots were going to be flying all game long when the Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets tipped off Monday night. 
 
Now whether they would go in, that’s another matter entirely. 
 
Boston’s struggles with knocking down the long ball played a pivotal role in them going into the half trailing the Houston Rockets, 58-48.
 
Houston, the NBA’s leader in three-pointers made (14.0) and taken (37.0), were 8-for-21 in the first half on 3s while the Celtics were a not-so-impressive 5-for-18.
 
Despite the shooting struggles, Boston managed to lead 37-36 after a driving lay-up by Jaylen Brown. 
 
But the Rockets had too much firepower and when they weren’t knocking down shots, they were getting to the free throw line where there 18-for-20 compared to Boston which was just 1-for-2.
Here are the first half Stars, Studs and Duds from Monday’s game. 

 

STARS
 
James Harden

The MVP candidate was bringing it all areas, scoring 21 points to go with seven assists. But he was far from perfect, evident by his six turnovers. 
 
Isaiah Thomas

He led the Celtics with 11 points, but looks to be growing frustrated with the lack of calls going the Celtics’ way. Near the end of the second quarter, Thomas was grimacing while holding his right groin. But it didn’t appear to be too big a deal as he hit a 3-pointer just moments later. But it’s worth keeping an eye on in the second half. 
 

STUDS
 
Jaylen Brown

He gave Boston a surprisingly strong lift off the Celtics bench. At the half, he had seven points which included a lay-up that put Boston ahead 37-36.

Trevor Ariza

He doesn’t get a ton of attention, but Ariza’s play has been one of the keys to Houston’s success this season. At the half he had 10 points and six rebounds.

 

DUDS
 
Jonas Jerebko

He got the start tonight, but looks nothing like the high-energy, impact player he has been of late while coming off the bench. He was scoreless in the first half while missing all three of his shot attempts.