Durant shines in All-Star game, Aldridge struggles to find minutes

Abhishek Mukund

The NBA held its annual All-Star event in Los Angeles this past weekend. Although there were no Texas alumni featured in the first two days of festivities, Golden State Warriors small forward Kevin Durant and San Antonio Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge represented the Longhorns during the All-Star Game on Sunday night.

This year saw a change in the game’s structure after last year’s game saw a risible lack of defense — the two teams scored a combined 374 points. Instead of the game being an East vs. West battle, the two highest fan-vote recipients — Cleveland Cavaliers small forward LeBron James and Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry — were named team captains and picked the teams. The winning team would donate $350,000 to a charity of the winning captain’s choice, while the losing team would donate $150,000 to a charity of the losing
captain’s choice.

James was reported to have picked Durant first. Aldridge and Boston Celtics center Al Horford were reportedly the last picks for each team, with Aldridge headed to Team LeBron and Horford to Team Stephen. Durant played against three of his Golden State teammates on Team Stephen — Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.

Kevin Durant 

Durant shot the ball decently on Sunday night, going 7-of-13 from the field and 3-of-8 from three. He also grabbed six rebounds and passed for five assists. He played the second-most minutes on Team LeBron. But Durant’s greatest impact came on the defensive end, where he had three steals and one block.

He came up big on that end of the floor on the final possession of the game. With less than seven seconds left, Curry attempted to get open for a game-tying three. James switched onto the much smaller guard. Curry saw an opening to his right, but met the outstretched arms of Durant before he could make a move. Durant and James crowded Curry until he was forced to pass the ball to
Toronto Raptors shooting guard DeMar DeRozan.

Durant followed the ball to DeRozan, eventually trapping him in the corner. DeRozan tried to create some space, but Durant’s hounding defense prevented him from getting a good look. DeRozan got a shot off after the buzzer, resulting in a 148-145 win for Team LeBron.

Durant has had a fantastic defensive season, and this was just another play to support that claim. Durant’s next game will be on Thursday when the Warriors face the Los Angeles Clippers.

LaMarcus Aldridge

While Durant was integral to Team LeBron’s win, Aldridge struggled to see any time on the court for
the team.

Aldridge played a total of just four minutes, the second-lowest of any player in the game. He finished the night 0-for-1 from the field and blocked one shot. Aldridge did not see any time in the game after the 3-minute mark of the first quarter.

Aldridge’s next game will be on Friday when the Spurs play the Denver Nuggets.