NBA TV All-Star Game Top 10 Highlights [video]

Here are the Top 10 highlights from the West’s 148-143 win in Sunday’s All-Star Game. Kobe won the MVP while LeBron had a triple-double for only the second time in the history of the game. (Michael Jordan did it first.)

Not sure why they’d waste two spots on the pregame and halftime entertainment when they don’t even play the audio, but whatever. The other eight highlights were good.

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Celtics beat Lakers, 109-96

REFILE – CORRECTING DATE Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett (L) talks to Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant in the first half during their NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, California, January 30, 2011. REUTERS/Alex Gallardo (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Box Score

The Celtics shot 60.3% from the field and 52.9% from three-point range en route to a 13-point win over the Lakers at Staples Center. It was a very poor showing by the Laker defense, which is ranked 8th in the league in defensive efficiency and 4th in opponent FG%.

Boston’s “Big Four” showed up, and in a big way. Paul Pierce (32 points), Ray Allen (21), Kevin Garnett (18) and Rajon Rondo (10) combined to shoot 33-for-51 (64.7%) from the field. They’re going to be awfully tough to beat when they are scoring this easily.

Kobe hit 16-of-29 shots for 41 points but had ZERO assists. That pretty much tells the story, doesn’t it?

Who is best in the clutch? (Hint: It’s not Kobe.)

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant defends against the Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony at the Pepsi Center in Denver on January 21, 2011. The Lakers beat the Nuggets 107-97. UPI/Gary C. Caskey

TrueHoop’s Henry Abbott wrote a good piece about clutch performance and although there’s a stack of videos over at YouTube that might convince fans otherwise, Abbott argues that Kobe Bryant is not all that good in the clutch.

ESPN Stats and Information’s Alok Pattani dug through 15 years of NBA data (see table below) — Bryant’s entire career, regular season and playoffs — and found that Bryant has attempted 115 shots in the final 24 seconds of a game in which the Lakers were tied or trailed by two or fewer points. He connected on 36, and missed 79 times.

That’s a rate of 31.3%, and since the 1996-97 season (including playoff games), there are 24 players that have made a higher percentage of shots when “…trailing by one or two points, or tied, in the final 24 seconds…” with a minimum of 30 shots attempted.

Who’s the best?

Carmelo Anthony. He hits 47.7% of his shots under these circumstances. Maybe he’s worth trading for after all.

Chris Paul is second at 45.2%. In fact, Brandon Roy (40%), Deron Williams (38.9%), Dirk Nowitzki (38.5%), Tim Duncan (37.1%), LeBron James (33.3%) and Gilbert Arenas (32.5%) are all better in the clutch.

I don’t think it’s fair to compare Kobe to some of the other names on this list — like Shawn Marion, Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis or Eddie Jones — because those guys had an advantage: not everyone knew that they were going to take the last shot. If the Lakers are down, everyone in the building knows who’s going to take the last shot. This is partly because Kobe is so good at getting a shot off, but it’s also due to his unwillingness to pass the ball in clutch situations. (As Abbott notes, from 2003-2009, Kobe took 56 shots and had just one assist in the clutch.) In his book, Phil Jackson lamented about Kobe’s insistence to always take the final shot in such situations.

However, it is fair to compare Kobe to superstars like Carmelo, CP3, Dirk and LeBron (with the Cavs) because they are typically the ones taking game-winners for their teams. LeBron and Chris Paul are especially good at passing to teammates in the clutch. Kobe has that ability, but he simply doesn’t trust his teammates in clutch situations.

Grizzlies hand Lakers third-straight loss

And according to ESPN’s John Hollinger, they can thank rookie Xavier Henry for slowing down Kobe Bryant for much of the game.

Memphis’ Xavier Henry checked the Lakers’ superstar for most of Tuesday night with little help, and the result was a 9-of-25 shooting night for Kobe and a 98-96 win for the Memphis Grizzlies.

While he wasn’t on the floor at the end for L.A.’s deja vu final possession — for the second season in a row in Memphis, Kobe kicked out to Ron Artest for a 3-pointer that missed at the buzzer — Henry was the protagonist during a stretch of 11 straight misses by Bryant midway through the game that allowed the Grizzlies to build a double-digit lead.

Henry wasn’t getting double-team support, either. He was one-on-one against Bryant for much of the night and, thanks to his size and discipline, largely held his own. The effort was so good Henry’s coach compared him to another player who has been known to limit Bryant.

“I remember when we interviewed [Henry] in Chicago,” Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said, “and I went away saying, ‘That’s Shane Battier all over again.’ He’s poised, he’s mature [and] he understands the big picture of what’s going on. That’s what you like to see in all your players coming into the league.”

It was a sweet win for the Grizzlies, who have been been the butt of jokes since the dreadful trade that sent Pau Gasol to L.A. and allowed the Lakers to win consecutive titles. Owner Michael Heisley continued his unintentional comedy act by trying to nickel and dime Henry after this year’s draft.

The Grizzlies are now 8-10 on the season and are sitting in the #10 spot in the West. The Lakers’ third loss sends them to 13-5 and the #4 spot in the conference.

GMs pick Lakers, Durant

Los Angeles Lakers' Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher (L-R), pose for photos during the basketball team's media day at Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, California on Sept. 25, 2010. The Lakers will try to three-peat this season after winning back-to-back NBA championship titles. UPI/Jim Ruymen Photo via Newscom


The annual GM Survey, released Wednesday, says the Lakers are the team to beat, according to 63 percent of the 28 general managers who responded.

The Miami Heat, who picked up James and Chris Bosh to join Dwyane Wade during the offseason, were picked to win by 33 percent of the respondents.

The Boston Celtics were the pick of 4 percent.

In the MVP race, Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder was the overwhelming pick, getting 67 percent of the votes. Kobe Bryant of the Lakers was second with 26 percent.

James, last season’s league MVP, picked up just a single vote, as did Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic.

I suspect that with all the hullabaloo surrounding Miami’s new Super Friends, the Lakers are coming into the season very motivated. They are the two-time champs and are the team to beat, despite all the goings on in South Florida. I give them the edge for an NBA title, but if the two teams meet in the Finals, then it means that LeBron, D-Wade and Chris Bosh have worked out whatever kinks there were and managed to get out of what is shaping up to be a brutal Eastern Conference playoff draw.

The MVP race will be interesting, especially with LeBron and Wade sharing the stage in Miami. Unless LeBron averages a triple-double, either player would be hard-pressed to win the award because voters could make a strong case for the other guy. That leaves Durant and Kobe as the front-runners.

Henry Abbott of TrueHoop digs deeper into the GM survey.

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