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.
Report: NBA All-Star Game Starters Announced
LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo and rising second-year stars Luka Doncic and Trae Young headline the star-studded group of present and future superstars who make up the starters for the 69th All-Star Game.
James, the catalyst for the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers, will captain the Western Conference team for the second straight season. Antetokounmpo, the Milwaukee Bucks’ star and reigning Kia MVP, captains the Eastern Conference team for a second straight season as well.
A fresh face in the starters’ mix this season is Dallas wunderkind Luka Doncic, who joins Houston’s James Harden as the two starters in the backcourt. Clippers forward and reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and Lakers forward Anthony Davis round out the All-L.A. frontcourt.
Boston’s Kemba Walker is joined by Atlanta’s Trae Young in the East backcourt. Like Doncic, Young is a first-time All-Star and starter in just his second NBA season. Antetokounmpo will be flanked by Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid and Toronto’s Pascal Siakam, another first time All-Star and starter, in the East frontcourt.
Adam Silver Believes Next Year’s ASG Draft Will be Televised
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he was pleased with the new format for the league’s All-Star Game and believed that next year’s player draft would be televised.
“I thought it was incredible. I can’t tell you how appreciative I am of the players,” Silver told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne following a 148-145 win for Team LeBron over Team Stephen at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
2018 NBA All-Star Sunday Recap
Michael Petrower recaps the All-Star Game from Sunday in Los Angeles.
The 2018 NBA All Star Game had some added appeal this year, with Captains LeBron James and Stephen Curry selecting playground style from the pool of All-Stars. Although it was not televised, it drew a lot of interest to say the least.
Team Lebron was headlined by Kevin Durant (the alleged first pick), Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, and Kyrie Irving. Sadly, Team Lebron suffered big losses with John Wall, Demarcus Cousins, Kevin Love and Kristaps Porzingis going down with injuries. Team Stephen was led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden, Joel Embiid and Demar DeRozan.
NBA fans were ready to indulge on the highlight real of plays to commence…That was, until the NBA inflicted a marathon-like performance that seemed a bit unnecessary, to say the least. Kevin Hart was at the center of theatrics that had NBA fans scratching their heads questioning what was on their television screen. Fergie topped off the saga with what was one of the more questionable national anthems we’ve seen in recent years. However, if you stuck around long enough, the game started at 8:40 PM EST and the flashy plays that we hoped for, began.
Joel Embiid made his first A;l-Star game appearance and kicked off the scoring festivities for Team Stephen with a ferocious and-one dunk. Team Stephen led all of the first quarter and won the quarter 42-31. Karl Anthony Towns led the first quarter scoring with 11 points. Team LeBron, however would storm back and cut the lead to two, 78-76 at half. LeBron came into his 14th straight All-Star game and lead his team at the half with 15 points. Klay Thompson also lead Team Stephen with 15 points at half.
The second half ensued and after some back and forth between the two teams, Team Stephen was leading by three going into the fourth quarter, 112-109. Team Stephen grew their lead to 11 while LeBron and KD got some rest. But after the two came back in, the 11-point deficit was erased after a LeBron three and the teams were now tied at 144 with 1:16 left in the fourth quarter.
DeRozan would make a free throw to put Team Stephen up one point, but Lebron followed with a strong two-pointer to put his team up one. DeRozan tried to answer, but threw away a pass which resulted in an easy two points for Russell Westbrook to ice the game. Team LeBron was the 2018 All Star Game winner with a score of 148-145.
LeBron James went on to win his third All Star MVP after finishing with 29 points to go along with 10 rebounds, eigh assists and a steal on 12-17 shooting. DeRozan and Damian Lillard lead Team Stephen with 21 points each.