Christmas returns home for first time as NBA player

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Christmas returns home for first time as NBA player

PHILADELPHIA Dionte Christmas has been looking forward to this night for quite a while.

The Philadelphia native was back home, playing before family and friends as an NBA player.

An NBA player.

There were so many nights, too many to count, when that dream seemed so far away, so distant to him.

So for Christmas, the Boston Celtics' 107-75 drubbing at the hands of Philadelphia, was indeed a bittersweet moment for him.

He will certainly take away the humbling effect that comes when you get crushed, preseason or not. But he's also mindful that on a personal level, the game offered family and friends a chance to see him play.

Having spent his post-college career playing overseas, Christmas was clearly touched by the fact that his parents - James and Jackie Christmas - would be in attendance as well as his grandmother, Rena Christmas.

"They haven't seen me play live, in person, in like three years," Christmas told CSNNE.com. "So I know for them, for me, this game is pretty special."

Christmas, who starred at nearby Temple University and finished his career among the school's all-time leading scorers, got a surprise tap on the shoulder from Doc Rivers in the second quarter - the earliest action he has seen during the preseason.

Prior to the game, C's coach Doc Rivers said he would limit the minutes of Paul Pierce. That meant players fighting for one of the remaining roster spots, players like Christmas, were sure to see more playing time.

And Christmas was eager to get on the floor, especially after a watching film following Boston's overtime loss to the New York Knicks in Hartford, Conn.

It was a game in which, after reviewing the film as a team on Monday, Christmas realized he stood out for all the wrong reasons.

"Coach (Rivers) was on me (Monday) in film," Christmas said. "That kind of surprised me. He didn't single me out, but he said a lot to me in film."

Rivers' issues with Christmas weren't all that different than what has been an issue with the entire Celtics team - their pick and roll defense.

Specifically, the guards who are to help down on pick-and-roll plays, weren't getting there quick enough - Christmas included.

"I do have to get there, rotate quicker," Christmas said. "It's not what you want to hear, but it is what you need in order to get better. That's why I don't take that to heart. I look at that as a positive. I'm trying to get better, and I'm going to go back and watch more film to better myself."

And in doing so, his next trip back home will be one in which his status will be the same as it was on Monday night.

An NBA player.

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All-Stars, studs and duds: Westbrook's reign as MVP comes to an end

All-Stars, studs and duds: Westbrook's reign as MVP comes to an end

NEW ORLEANS – You don’t rack up triple doubles at a historically ridiculous rate the way Russell Westbrook does without being able to dish out an assist from time to time.

The biggest assist he made in the 66th annual NBA all-star didn’t make its way on to the stats sheet.

But it was historical in so many ways.

Westbrook’s advice to Anthony Davis on how to win the game’s MVP award was indeed taken to heart with Davis winning the award following the Western Conference’s 192-182 win over the East All-Stars.

Davis finished with a game-high 52 points, shattering the previous mark set by Wilt Chamberlain in 1962.

Davis won the MVP award after Westbrook had won it each of the two previous All-Star games.

Prior to the game, Davis said he did do a little lobbying among his fellow all-stars in the locker room.

“I stressed that, I think more than enough, to the guys in the locker room before the game that I wanted to get the MVP for this crowd, for this city, and I ended up doing it.”

Following the game, Westbrook acknowledged that he did speak with Davis about how to win the MVP award.

When asked about what he said, Westbrook replied, “I’m not going to tell you, but he did a good job and got it done.”

Despite not winning the MVP award, Westbrook had a dominant game of his own as he tallied 41 points which was one point shy of the previous record.

But after the game, it was clear that he was more pleased with the performance of Davis.

“It was great,” Westbrook said. “It’s definitely always a great thing to do, especially here where he plays in front of his fans, his family. It’s a great experience and definitely happy for him.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the 66th annual NBA all-star game.

 

STARS

Anthony Davis

The hometown team’s best player delivered a scoring night for the ages, finishing with an All-Star record 52 points on 26-for-39 shooting to go with 10 rebounds. The previous record of 42 points was set by Wilt Chamberlain in 1962.

Russell Westbrook

His All-Star reign as the game’s MVP came to an end after having won the award the previous two All-Star games. He finished with 41 points.

 

STUDS

Giannis Antetokounmpo

He was an above-the-rim monster, scoring 30 points primarily on a dozen dunks.

Kevin Durant

He was filling up the stat sheet in several categories for the West, finishing with a triple-double of 21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

Kyrie Irving

Arguably the best performer for the East, Irving had 22 points, 14 assists and seven rebounds.

Isaiah Thomas

There were others who had a more prolific night shooting the ball, but Thomas’ impact off the bench was indeed felt. He led all East reserves with 20 points.

James Harden

The bearded one had a triple-double as well, although not the kind he would prefer. Along with scoring 12 points, and dishing out 12 assists, Harden also racked up a game-high 10 turnovers.

 

DUDS

None

There were some guys who didn’t do much statistically, but with this being such an exhibition-like event, putting too much stock in any player’s performance is a waste of time. They are among the top 24 or so players in the NBA. No amount of missed shots or turnovers will change that fact.