Russell Westbrook Dunk All Star Game 2015

Gregg Popovich gets to 1,000 wins and All-Stars put on a complete show. Let’s take a look back at the week in the NBA.


Gregg Popovich became the ninth coach in NBA history to reach the 1,000 win plateau when Marco Belinelli hit a game-winning jumper against the Pacers in Indianapolis on Monday.

Belinelli let out a jumper after being run off from the 3-point line, and he connected with three seconds remaining to put the Spurs up, 95-93.

Pops got to 1,000 wins in less than 19 full seasons, and is the owner of the second-highest winning percentage of any coach with a thousand wins or more.

With a 68 percent winning clip, Pop is just behind Phil Jackson’s 70 percent. Only Jackson and Pat Riley reached the 1,000 win mark in fewer games.

Pop is only the second coach to amass a thousand wins with the same team, Jerry Sloan did the same with the Utah Jazz. Pop’s coaching tree is starting to spread its branches out as well.

Mike Budenholzer of the Atlanta Hawks, Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors, Monty Williams of the New Orleans Pelicans, Brett Brown of the Philadelphia 76ers and Quinn Snyder of the Jazz have all served as assistants under Pop.

This latest achievement allows us to put in perspective just what Pop has done in one of the league’s smallest markets. If you didn’t believe it before, maybe now you will: Pop is one of the greatest of all time.

gregg popovich april 2014

This weekend ended with the Association taking time off to honor the best players of the first half of the season with the 64th annual All-Star Game.

The rosters were tweaked due to injury right up until Friday night. This year set a record with three All-Star starters being replaced due to injury.

Kobe Bryant was replaced by DeMarcus Cousins, Blake Griffin was replaced by Damian Lillard and Anthony Davis was replaced by Dirk Nowitzki.

In addition to those three starters, Kyle Korver replaced Dwyane Wade, bringing the total number of Atlanta Hawks in the All-Star game to four.

Andrew Wiggins Rising Stars 2015

The festivities kicked off in earnest with the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday night, which featured a new format.

This year, instead of rookies taking on sophomores or former NBA greats picking their own teams of young players, the game pitted the best international first and second year players against the best young players born in the US.

Out of the gate, Gianni Antetokounmpo wowed with his sheer length and athleticism on both ends of the court.

Not to be outdone, his World Team teammate, Frenchman Rudy Gobert — aka "The Stifle Tower" — put on a show above the rim with 18 points, 12 boards and three blocks.

The two young Americans who made a splash were Victor Oladipo and Zach LaVine, who each scored 22 points.

Andrew Wiggins was named game MVP with 22 points, six rebounds, and four assists.

The weekend took it up a notch with the performances during All-Star Saturday Night.

Team Bosh won the perennially disappointing Shooting Stars competition for the third year in a row.

Now that they have won this extremely basic competition three years in a row, the team should be disbanded in the name of competitive balance.

The Skills Competition reached new heights with a change in format. In past years, each competitor navigated the dribbling, passing and shooting course independently.

This year, the players competed head-to-head, and it seemed that facing off that way brought out a little extra in the competitors.

In the end, Patrick Beverley, an injury replacement, took home the crown by out shooting Brandon Knight from three. The format change was for the better and I, for one, hope they keep it next year.

In what was billed as the best 3-point shooting field in the history of the competition, the hype matched the product.

The instant classic of a field included defending champion Marco Belinelli, James Harden, Kyrie Irving, J.J. Redick, Kyle Korver, Klay Thompson, Wesley Matthews and Steph Curry.

The opening round featured some gaudy numbers never before seen so early in the competition. When the field was whittled down, only the Splash Brothers remained.

Chef Curry faced off against Klay and in the end, alongside Kyrie Irving. But it was Curry who hit 13 in a row to tie a 20-year-old record held by Craig Hodges.

Curry walked off with his first 3-point shooting crown.

Zach LaVine Dunk Contest 2015

The night was capped by the premiere event, the Slam Dunk competition.

Gone was the confusing format from last year (I still can’t tell you who or what won last year’s edition). The scoring reverted to the system of old, two dunks per round, three rounds to determine a champion.

Off the bat, Zach LaVine and Victor Oladipo dropped perfect scores on their first dunks.

Mason Plumlee dropped an incredibly uncreative first dunk and was rewarded accordingly by the judges. Giannis Antetokounmpo could not connect on any of this three attempts and was given the minimum score of 30.

LaVine and Oladipo separated themselves from the field in the second round and earned their tickets to the finals. In the end, LaVine showed that this athleticism is just ridiculous and earned the 2015 Slam Dunk title in impressive fashion.

Russell Westbrook Dunk 2015 NBA All-Star Game

On Sunday night the stars came to shine at the Garden.

The West jumped out early thanks to big 3s from James Harden. LeBron singlehandedly kept the East in the game with 15 of his 30 points coming in the opening quarter. Kyle Korver chipped in too with three straight 3s in the first.

The West opened up an 18-point lead with 10 minutes left in the half, thanks to three straight deep 3s from Russell Westbrook.

Westbrook had 27 points at the half. That is when we saw something we had never seen in an All-Star game before: one team really trying in the first half.

The East needed a run sparked by LeBron to get back into things before halftime. Coach Budenholzer put in his four Hawks players, and suddenly the defense got turned up and fancy passing abounded. By the half, the West lead was trimmed to one point.

In the second half, the West maintained their slim lead through most of the third quarter. Early in the fourth quarter, the East held on to a slim lead due to their hot shooting from beyond the arc.

Korver, LeBron, Bosh and Kyrie all hit threes to keep the East close. A Kyrie Irving and-1 tied the game at 148 with 4:18 to play.

Chris Paul and James Harden fueled a 7-0 West run and gave them a lead they would not relinquish. The West went on to win the 64th All-Star Game, 163-158.

LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Steph Curry, Chris Paul, James Harden and even Kyle Korver could have all taken home MVP honors.

If you count the players’ reaction to in-game dunks from both Dirk Nowitzki AND Tim Duncan, they might have been considered for MVP as well.

The stats from this edition of the game were record shattering. The 2015 All-Star Game Set quite a few records:

The player with the most points in a half (Westbrook)

The most field goals made in a half (Westbrook, again)

The most combined points in a half (165)

The most three point field goals made by a team (West, 25)

The most combined three point field goals attempted and made (133 and 48, respectively)

The most three point field goals attempted by a team (East, 68)

The most combined points in a game (321)

The most points by a team (West, 163).

In the end, Russell Westbrook took home MVP honors. Westbrook scored 41 points in the game, coming within one point of tying Wilt Chamberlain’s record for scoring in an All-Star game.

It was a truly historic weekend. Hopefully, the excitement of All-Star Weekend can get carried over and translate to an exciting ending to the NBA season.


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