TORONTO — Longtime viewers of NBA All-Star Games aren’t exactly expecting playoff-level intensity. This is an exhibition, after all, and the players use it as an opportunity to get some rest from the regular season grind as much as they do to show off for fans. Intensity is optional, basically.
But the majority of All-Star weekend main events still hark back to real basketball for their final few minutes. Three and-a-half quarters worth of dunks, treys, and dazzling displays of athleticism are traded for actual competition as the game clock ticks to zeros and the score tightens. That fleeting time is when historic moments can be made, and we expected the crop of 2016 All-Stars to produce a few on Sunday night – especially considering the unique circumstances of Kobe Bryant’s final appearance.
We were wrong, of course, an unfortunate development that was obvious would come to pass before the fourth quarter even started. Every year, the basketball world’s complaints grow louder at the lack of defense played by the game’s biggest stars on its biggest stage. And in 2016, those cries will be louder than ever and rightfully so.
All those bound to dramatically lament the overall basketball quality of Sunday’s contest, though, clearly missed what was some pointed and strategic defense played by the West down the stretch.
See Kevin Durant and Draymond Green frantically chasing Paul George in the video above? The conference rivals were doing so prevent the Indiana Pacers star from breaking the All-Star Game record of 42 points set by Wilt Chamberlain in 1962.
After an aggressive offensive performance marked by 9-of-19 shooting from beyond the arc, George stood at 41 points with the score out of reach and the clock reaching its end when Durant and Green decided to spoil things – with the only defense played all night.
Cue the boo birds.