Kyrie Irving was second among guards in fan voting for the NBA All-Star Game in the Eastern Conference despite being limited by injuries to 15 games, and Nets teammate Spencer Dinwiddie generated considerable All-Star buzz among opposing coaches with his play in Irving’s absence. But when the All-Star starters were announced Thursday night before the Nets faced the Lakers at Barclays Center, no Nets were on the list.
Eastern Conference starters included Atlanta’s Trae Young and Boston’s Kemba Walker in the backcourt and a frontcourt of Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, Toronto’s Pascal Siakam and Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid. The Western Conference starters are Luka Doncic of Dallas and James Harden of Houston in the backcourt, LeBron James and Anthony Davis of the Lakers and Kawhi Leonard of the Clippers in the frontcourt. James will captain the West and Antetokounmpo will captain the East, and they will select the teams after the reserves are announced next Thursday.
Irving finished third in the East backcourt in the weighted score reflecting fan, player and media voting. Dinwiddie was 10th.
Asked for his thoughts on the merits of his starting backcourt before the announcement, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said, “Can we get them both in? Obviously, I’d vote for both of them. Kyrie hasn’t had the opportunity to play a lot of games. I think we all understand that. I just think they’re both deserving but understand there’s complexities to that and different opinions.”
From China to Brooklyn
The meeting between the Lakers and the Nets was their first since their ill-fated preseason trip to China for two games in October. Rockets general manager Darryl Morey posted his support on social media for demonstrators in Hong Kong seeking full democracy, and China reacted by refusing to televise all NBA games from that time to the present. Reportedly, that might change for the Feb. 16 All-Star Game.
Discussing that trip, Atkinson said, “I’d do it 20 times over. I thought it was great, great bonding…A lot of our families got to go, and that’s huge to get to know players’ families and staff members families. Great experience.”