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D’Angelo Russell Sees Rising Stars Game as an “Opportunity”

D’Angelo Russell sees the Rising Stars game as an opportunity and a stepping stone to the big game down the road.

Eric Saar

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On the opening night of All-Star Weekend, Los Angeles Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell tallied 22 points in the Rising Stars Challenge, helping the USA team earn a 157-154 victory over the World team. Russell shot 9-of-15 from the floor and also added seven assists in just 16 minutes of action. Prior to the game, Russell talked to Basketball Insiders about his rookie season and the significance of being a part of All-Star Weekend.

“Yes, it is. Very,” Russell said when asked if it was great to get away from his up and down season. “I can’t dumb it down any more. It’s definitely a great feeling.”

The All-Star Weekend is a nice reprieve from what has been a roller-coaster of a season for Russell. The rookie guard has had his share of highlights (including a career-high 27 point performance against the Sacramento Kings) and lowlights (such as getting benched by Lakers’ head coach Byron Scott after starting at the beginning of the year). Making matters worse for Russell is the impressive campaigns fellow-rookies like Karl Anthony-Towns, Kristaps Porzingis and (to a lesser extent) Jahlil Okafor are having.

It also can’t be easy playing in the shadow of Kobe Bryant’s farewell tour and on a team that has already lost 44 games. He’s been frustrated, but this weekend can be a nice vacation to refocus and propel his game to another level moving forward.

The No. 2 overall pick this summer sees the Rising Stars game as a stepping stone to the big prize—the All-Star game.

“It’s great to get this opportunity. You always dreamed of the main event — the All-Star East versus West game. But there are multiple events to be excited for, starting with this one.” Russell said.

“Heck yeah, that’s all I’ve been thinking about,” he said in reference to how this is the first step to getting to the big game.

The way you get to that next level is by learning from others. You get a lot of that with your team, but at All-Star Weekend, you are exposed to a whole other group of players. Russell is taking the opportunity to soak up all he can learn from the league’s best players.

“Take an advantage of it [the Rising Stars Challenge and All-Star weekend]. It’s definitely an opportunity to rest and get mentally prepared for the second half of the season,” Russell said. “But also, see where the rest of these guys at the top level, the main event, how they handle themselves as you’re around them more than you are usually.”

As players progress through their respective careers, they often take different parts of other people’s skill sets and add it to their arsenals. Russell has started doing that.

“There is always something you can add to your game,” Russell said. “It’s a good opportunity to watch these guys in person, it’s tough, and when you play against them, you can take something away, so it’s cool.”

There is only one part of All-Star Weekend that Russell doesn’t like—the cold weather.

“I hate it,” Russell said. “I hate it. I have nothing I can say positive about the weather, it’s bad, man.”

Who can blame him? When you play in Southern California and then have to deal with extremely cold temperatures, the change can be jarring.

Despite the rough weather, Russell certainly has the right mentality and will look to finish the season strong off his performance in the Rising Stars game.

Based in Arizona, Eric Saar is an analyst for Basketball Insiders. He has covered the league for several years. He loves to converse about the NBA on Twitter, so follow him at @Eric_Saar. Eric graduated with honors from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

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Antetokounmpo Leads In First 2018 NBA All-Star Voting

Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo, who made his NBA All-Star Game debut last season, is the leading vote-getter in the first fan returns of NBA All-Star Voting 2018.

Basketball Insiders

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NEW YORK, Jan. 4, 2018 – The Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo, who made his NBA All-Star Game debut last season, is the leading vote-getter in the first fan returns of NBA All-Star Voting 2018 presented by Verizon.

Antetokounmpo received 863,416 votes to edge the Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James (856,080) by 7,336 votes for the top spot in the Eastern Conference and overall after the first 12 days of fan voting. In the Western Conference, the Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant leads with 767,402 votes and teammate Stephen Curry is next with 735,115 – a difference of 32,287 votes.

The 67th NBA All-Star Game will take place on Sunday, Feb. 18 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. TNT will televise the midseason showcase at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT, marking Turner Sports’ 33rd year of NBA All-Star coverage.

Joining Antetokounmpo and James, a 13-time All-Star, at the top of the Eastern Conference frontcourt are Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers (433,161) and Kristaps Porzingis of the New York Knicks (359,459). Four-time All-Star Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics leads among East guards with 802,834 votes, followed by three-time All-Star DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors (259,368) and Victor Oladipo of the Indiana Pacers (251,886).

Durant, the reigning Finals MVP, is joined at the top of the West frontcourt by two members of the New Orleans Pelicans, 2017 NBA All-Star Game MVP Anthony Davis (393,000) and three-time All-Star DeMarcus Cousins (356,340), followed by the Warriors’ Draymond Green (325,612). In voting for the West guards, Curry is followed by the Houston Rockets’ James Harden (602,040) and reigning Kia NBA MVP Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder (438,469).

Under a new All-Star Game format that replaces the traditional matchup between the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference, the team rosters will be chosen by two captains from the pool of players voted as starters and reserves. The captains will be the All-Star starter from each conference who receives the most fan votes in his conference.

TNT will reveal the All-Star Game starters, including the two captains, on Thursday, Jan. 18 during TNT NBA Tip-Off presented by Autotrader at 6 p.m. ET, featuring Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith. The network will announce the reserves, as selected by NBA head coaches, on Tuesday, Jan. 23 during TNT NBA Tip-Off at 7 p.m. ET. The team rosters will be revealed on Thursday, Jan. 25 during a special one-hour edition of TNT NBA Tip-Off at 7 p.m. ET.

For the second consecutive year, NBA players and basketball media will join fans in selecting the All-Star Game starters. Fans will account for 50 percent of the vote, while all current players and a media panel will account for 25 percent each.

Players and select media will be able to complete one full ballot, featuring three frontcourt players and two guards each from both the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference.

After all votes are tallied, players will be ranked in each conference by position (guard and frontcourt) within each of the three voting groups – fan votes, player votes and media votes. Each player’s score will be calculated by averaging his weighted rank from the fan votes, the player votes and the media votes. The five players (two guards and three frontcourt players) with the best score in each conference will be named NBA All-Star Game starters. Fan voting will serve as the tiebreaker for players in a position group with the same score.

The next fan voting update will be shared on Thursday, Jan. 11. Voting will conclude on Monday, Jan. 15 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

See below for the first fan returns of NBA All-Star Voting 2018 presented by Verizon.

NBA ALL-STAR VOTING 2018 PRESENTED BY VERIZON

Eastern Conference
Frontcourt
1 Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL) 863,416
2 LeBron James (CLE) 856,080
3 Joel Embiid (PHI) 433,161
4 Kristaps Porzingis (NYK) 359,459
5 Kevin Love (CLE) 221,969
6 Al Horford (BOS) 120,016
7 Jayson Tatum (BOS) 98,586
8 Andre Drummond (DET) 85,374
9 Enes Kanter (NYK) 83,102
10 Dwight Howard (CHA) 57,730

Guards
1 Kyrie Irving (BOS) 802,834
2 DeMar DeRozan (TOR) 259,368
3 Victor Oladipo (IND) 251,886
4 Ben Simmons (PHI) 210,085
5 John Wall (WAS) 175,990
6 Dwyane Wade (CLE) 165,163
7 Isaiah Thomas (CLE) 87,680
8 Kyle Lowry (TOR) 85,070
9 Bradley Beal (WAS) 71,079
10 Jaylen Brown (BOS) 51,562

Western Conference
Frontcourt
1 Kevin Durant (GSW) 767,402
2 Anthony Davis (NOP) 393,000
3 DeMarcus Cousins (NOP) 356,340
4 Draymond Green (GSW) 325,612
5 Paul George (OKC) 291,495
6 Kawhi Leonard (SAS) 212,650
7 Carmelo Anthony (OKC) 194,239
8 Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN) 188,240
9 Kyle Kuzma (LAL) 184,338
10 LaMarcus Aldridge (SAS) 153,599

Guards
1 Stephen Curry (GSW) 735,115
2 James Harden (HOU) 602,040
3 Russell Westbrook (OKC) 438,469
4 Klay Thompson (GSW) 359,442
5 Manu Ginobili (SAS) 231,460
6 Chris Paul (HOU) 174,343
7 Damian Lillard (POR) 148,622
8 Lonzo Ball (LAL) 120,817
9 Devin Booker (PHO) 91,562
10 Jimmy Butler (MIN) 88,009

How Fans Can Vote:

NBA.com voting page at NBA.com/vote: Fill out one full ballot per day (per day is defined as once every 24 hours) on NBA.com/vote from a desktop or mobile browser. Fans can select up to two guards and three frontcourt players from each conference when choosing starters. During the five “2-for-1 Days,” (Dec. 31, Jan. 4, Jan 11, Jan. 12 and Jan 15) votes through this channel will be counted twice.

NBA App: Access the ballot and vote through the app, which is available on Android and iOS. Fans can fill out one full ballot per day and select up to two guards and three frontcourt players from each conference when choosing starters. During the five “2-for-1 Days,” votes through this channel will be counted twice.

Facebook: Post the player’s first and last name along with the hashtag #NBAVOTE on your personal Facebook account. Each post may include only one player’s name. Fans may post votes for 10 unique players per day from Dec. 25 – Jan. 15.

Twitter: Tweet, retweet or reply with an NBA player’s first and last name or Twitter handle, along with the hashtag #NBAVOTE. Each tweet may include only one player’s name or handle. Fans may vote for 10 unique players per day from Dec. 25- Jan. 15.

Google Search: Search “NBA Vote All-Star” or “NBA Vote Team Name” and use respective voting cards to select teams and then players. Fans may submit votes for 10 unique players per day from Dec. 25 – Jan. 15.

Amazon Alexa: To vote via Amazon Alexa, the user must have an Alexa-enabled device, and enable the “NBA All-Star” skill. To submit a vote, the user can open the skill with, “Alexa, open NBA All-Star,” and then request to vote for his or her player of choice. Voters can submit a maximum of one player name per request to Alexa. Users can submit votes for 10 unique players per Amazon account each day from Dec. 25 – Jan 15.

Sina Weibo and Tencent: To vote on Sina Weibo (weibo.com), the user must have a Sina Weibo account. To vote on Sina Weibo, voters must visit China.NBA.com/vote, and select up to 10 players. To vote on Tencent NBA Community, the user must have a QQ account. To vote via Tencent NBA Community, voters must visit China.NBA.com/vote, and select up to 10 players.

SOURCE: NBA Press Release

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Anthony Davis Breaks All-Star Scoring Record, Wins MVP

Basketball Insiders

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Pelicans star Anthony Davis openly proclaimed ahead of Sunday’s All-Star Game that he was going after the MVP award, and he didn’t make his master plan on how to do so much of a secret.

“Coach [Alvin] Gentry already told me every time I catch it to put it up,” said Davis upon being selected to his fourth straight spot on the Western Conference team. Davis took an All-Star record 39 shots and scored 52 points to lead the West over the East at the 66th All-Star Game, 192-182 — the highest-scoring game in league history. The 23-year-old’s point total smashed the previous record of 42, set by Wilt Chamberlain in 1962.

Source: Justin Verrier of ESPN

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2017 NBA All-Star Sunday Recap

A breakdown of the final day of 2017 NBA All-Star Weekend.

David Yapkowitz

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Coming in to the 2017 NBA All-Star game, the biggest storyline was Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook as teammates again for one night. But it was hometown hero Anthony Davis who stole the show.

The Pelicans star scored a game-high 52 points, breaking Wilt Chamberlain’s All-Star record of 42 points, as the Western Conference pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 192-182 win. A four time All-Star, Davis shot 26-for-39 from the field and grabbed 10 rebounds as he took home his first All-Star MVP award.

It was also the third consecutive win for the West, who have now won six of the last seven matchups, as well as the highest scoring All-Star game in NBA history.

Westbrook and Durant did end up having a moment together in the first quarter, when Westbrook passed the ball ahead to Durant in the post, and Durant threw it right back to him for an alley-oop dunk. The play got their Western Conference teammates up off the bench, and they broke into a round of applause during a timeout.

After a back and forth affair for much of the night, the West was able to create separation in the fourth quarter as Davis and Westbrook took over. Davis threw down several thunderous dunks and Westbrook, who scored 41 points of his own, added a few deep threes. He shot 16-for-26 from the field, pulled down five rebounds, and dished out seven assists.

Durant had only the fourth triple double in All-Star history with 21 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists.

The East was led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, who scored 30 points on 14-for-17 shooting in his All-Star debut. He dazzled the crowd throughout the game with athletic, high flying dunks. Cavalier teammates Lebron James and Kyrie Irving added 23 and 22 points, respectively. Irving also dished out 14 assists.

Other players making All-Star appearances for the first time were Gordon Hayward and DeAndre Jordan for the West, and Kemba Walker for the East. Hayward finished with eight points, two assists, and tied John Wall with a game high four steals. Jordan had six points, two assists, and three rebounds. Walker had seven points and six assists.

In all, it was a very entertaining game and made up for the somewhat lackluster Saturday night.

All-Star Weekend 2018 will be held in Los Angeles.

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