The NBA announced Wednesday that one more Jayhawk will join Paul Pierce (Boston Celtics) and Markieff Morris (Phoenix Suns) in Orlando for 2012 All-Star Weekend festivities.
It could have been two more.
Mario Chalmers (Miami Heat) was selected as one of the six players in the All-Star Three-Point Contest. Brandon Rush (Golden State Warriors) was not.
Chalmers’ honor is well-deserved. He’s had the best shooting season of his four-year career and has hit 57 of 123 triples for a more-than-solid 46.3 percent average. In fact, Chalmers is ranked sixth in the NBA in shooting percentage, and he has the best average of players with 120 attempts or more.
Rush’s snub is bizarre for the same reasons. Rush, with his insane 54.8 percent average (40 of 73 treys), is the most efficient shooter in the NBA this season. But percentages didn’t seem to factor into the selection criteria, as Chalmers is the only top-20 shooter to make the contest. The other four honorees (not counting reigning champion James Jones, also of the Miami Heat) rank 1, 3, 13 and 28 in total three-point makes. Chalmers is tied for 7th in the NBA using that metric. Again, not counting Jones, just two of the other four contestants have a top-50 (!) three-point average.
After his selection, Chalmers tweeted:
Thanks you to the NBA and all my fans for selecting me for the 3 point shoot out. A dream come true
The San Jose Mercury News Warriors blog “Fast Break” summed up the disappointment surrounding Rush’s snub in one tweet:
Feel bad for Brandon Rush. He's done a great job rebuilding his rep in Oakland. Would have been a nice acknowledgment to be part of weekend.
But a little perspective helps ease the sting. From Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo Sports:
... It's a silly exhibition. It's meant to offer a litany of storylines to showcase on basic cable on a Saturday night in February. Hemming and hawing over this list -- even if it features two All-Stars in (Kevin) Love and (Joe) Johnson who are shooting at the league average from behind the three-point line -- is a bit much at this point. As it stands, the NBA has put together a well-rounded list of participants planned to check all the respective boxes, all with a good chance to win.
Paul Pierce (Boston Celtics) had an ugly outing on Wednesday, hitting just 3 of 11 shots for 10 points as the Detroit Pistons took down the Celtics, 98-88. Pierce missed his only three-point attempt and grabbed just one rebound in 37 minutes. He chipped in five assists, sank 4 of 4 from the free-throw line and blocked two shots (full stats here).
Drew Gooden (Milwaukee Bucks) bounced back from a 2-for-14 dud on Monday by making 5 of 13 baskets on Wednesday against the New Orleans Hornets. Gooden only finished with 11 points, however, and didn’t make it to the free-throw line for the first time in almost a month. The Bucks lost, 92-89. Gooden hit the only three-pointer he attempted and added five rebounds, two blocks and an assist in 26 minutes (full stats here). Gooden and three other Bucks starters did not play at all in the fourth quarter, despite it being a 72-65 game after three.
First, Gooden, who tossed two straight airballs, delivered a particularly bad outlet pass, and suffered from a questionable shot selection and defensive stance. But he continues to work hard in spite of a sprained wrist and probably some other nagging aches and injuries that he shied away from specifying after the game (instead saying everyone has injuries). He never makes excuses, and keeps plugging away at a position that he is very obviously not suited to play. Gooden is a reasonably capable power forward, but instead starts at center, often guarding real centers, and not only that, but is tasked with supplying a good portion of the offense every night. When you see the player after the game, feet soaking in water, icebag on wrist, drained, you see another side.
Quirky? Yes. Efficient? Not always. Trying? Yeah.
Xavier Henry (New Orleans Hornets) made all three of his shots and finished with six points and four rebounds in a 92-89 win over the Milwaukee Bucks. Henry also turned the ball over twice in his 13 minutes on the court (full stats here).
Nick Collison (Oklahoma City Thunder) played his second-most minutes of the season and scored eight points, but the Thunder lost to the Houston Rockets, 96-95. Collison’s 29 minutes were the most since he spent 30 minutes on the floor back on Jan. 7. Against the Rockets on Wednesday, Collison grabbed five rebounds and had two assists, two steals and a block as he played the entire fourth quarter in place of starting power forward Serge Ibaka (full stats here).
Cole Aldrich (Oklahoma City Thunder) did not play (coach’s decision) on Wednesday against the Houston Rockets. The Thunder lost the close contest, 96-95 (game stats here).
Kirk Hinrich (Atlanta Hawks) had five points and three assists in 24 minutes on Wednesday as the Hawks edged out the Phoenix Suns, 101-99. Hinrich also had a rebound, a steal and zero turnovers, but he hit just 2 of 8 shots from the field (full stats here).
Nash checked out when Hinrich came in and returned when Hinrich left. He always defends Nash well.
Brady Morningstar (NBA D-League - Tulsa 66ers) spoke to the Journal-World’s Tom Keegan about his experience in the developmental league:
“Every night I know there is going to be another guy coming at me because he thinks he has an advantage on me,” Morningstar said. “I don’t blame them for thinking that. If I looked at me out there, I’d think that, too. It’s kind of fun. Our coach always says, ‘If you can’t defend a guy in the D League, you can’t defend a guy in the NBA.’”
6 p.m., Drew Gooden and the Milwaukee Bucks vs. the Orlando Magic
6:30 p.m., Mario Chalmers and the Miami Heat vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers
7 p.m., Xavier Henry and the New Orleans Hornets vs. the New York Knicks
7 p.m., Nick Collison, Cole Aldrich and the Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Brandon Rush and the Golden State Warriors
9:30 p.m., ESPN, Markieff Morris and the Phoenix Suns vs. the Los Angeles Lakers