You want points? How about 374 of them

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTING LIFE - TIM REYNOLDS

NEW ORLEANS — It was the fourth quar­ter of the All-Star Game, and a few fans started yelling loudly enough for DeAn­dre Jor­dan to hear them from his spot on the Western Con­fer­ence bench. Their cry: “De-fence! De-fence!” Jor­dan’s shout back: “No, no, no!” The mo­ment was both hi­lar­i­ous and fit­ting. De­fence was in short sup­ply Sun­day night dur­ing the NBA’s show­case game, one where An­thony Davis smashed a 55-year-old record with 52 points and the Western Con­fer­ence beat the East­ern Con­fer­ence 192-182. And it prompted some ques­tions af­ter­ward on whether the glo­ri­fied ex­hi­bi­tion re­ally needs to see at least the ap­pear­ance of de­fence re­turn. “All-Star is about of­fence and giv­ing the crowd a show, but if they want to see a lit­tle more de­fence as fans and ev­ery­thing — I mean, no­body wants to go out here and get hurt,” said Davis, the game’s MVP in his home arena. “It’s all about fun . ... I love it. I don’t re­ally care. I’ll go out there and have fun. I didn’t play any de­fence.” Few did. There were 33 steals in the game, sure, but most of those were more the byprod­uct of bad passes than picked pock­ets. There were 16 fouls, mainly ones play­ers were tak­ing to stop the clock and al­low sub­sti­tu­tions; only four were of the shoot­ing va­ri­ety. Stephen Curry laid down on the court at one point while Gian­nis An­te­tok­oun­mpo was driv­ing in for what be­came one of his 12 dunks. “I’m go­ing to play hard no mat­ter what,” An­te­tok­oun­mpo said. “That’s the only thing I know how to do.” Davis took 39 shots, mak­ing 26, both of those now All-Star records. The game also es­tab­lished records for to­tal points (384), most field goals (162), most as­sists (103), most as­sists by one team (West with 60), most points in one quar­ter (101, first) and so on. The East set a rather du­bi­ous record, es­tab­lish­ing a new high score by a los­ing team for the third con­sec­u­tive sea­son. Put sim­ply, it’s not a real game, and real-game thinking doesn’t ap­ply. LeBron James made a shot from nearly half-court, some­thing he would never try in a com­pet­i­tive sit­u­a­tion. He loves de­fence. He wasn’t miss­ing it on Sun­day. “I think the big­gest thing com­ing out of the game is that ev­ery­body leaves in­jury-free,” James said. “We gave the fans what they wanted to see and every­one left in­jury-free. An­other suc­cess­ful All-Star week­end for my­self and every­one.” West coach Steve Kerr said how All-Star games are played isn’t up to the coaches, but rather it’ll be the play­ers who de­cide if they want de­fence back. “It would be good to pos­si­bly in­cen­tivize the guys some­how,” Kerr said. “I don’t know if you can maybe get their char­i­ties in­volved or win­ner-take-all type thing, but I think it’s pos­si­ble to play a lot harder with­out tak­ing a charge. We know what silly is out there, if you’re un­der­cut­ting guys, but it’s al­most gone too far the other way where there’s just no re­sis­tance at all. I think there’s a happy medium.” East guard Kyrie Irv­ing ex­pects it will change. Down the stretch, the East did ap­par­ently try to raise the de­fen­sive bar. Stevens said it was dis­cussed in the fourth quar­ter, with hopes of putting the East in po­si­tion to win the game. He al­most sounded dis­ap­pointed in how the flow went. “We talked about try­ing to get back in it at the end and talked about how, ob­vi­ously, the one way to do that is keep peo­ple in front of you,” Stevens said. “But, no, it prob­a­bly should have been a big­ger em­pha­sis in ret­ro­spect now.”

GER­ALD HER­BERT, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

East­ern Con­fer­ence’s LeBron James of the Cleve­land Cava­liers goes to the bas­ket dur­ing the first half of the NBA All-Star basketball game in New Orleans, Sun­day.

THEO WARGO, GETTY IM­AGES

Jay Z, Blue Ivy Carter and Beyonce Knowles at­tend the 66th NBA All-Star Game Sun­day.

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