Sunday NBA Insider: No longer the centers of attention at All-Star games

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 18, 2014 - 6:51 PM

Sorry, Pek. Fans don’t have to vote for centers for the All-Star Game anymore.

hide

Dwight Howard hasn’t been bothered by the change in All-Star voting. Despite not having to vote for centers anymore, fans have made Howard the No. 2 vote-getter going into the final week.

Photo: David J. Phillip • Associated Press,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Before last season, the NBA announced it had amended its All-Star Game balloting procedures by eliminating the center position from consideration, which now allows voters to select three “frontcourt” players rather than two forwards and a center to start the game for each conference instead.

At the time, it was done to keep pace with a changing game in which more and more teams played with smaller lineups while the big man who once dominated the game playing with his back to the basket continues to disappear.

Or does he?

Wednesday’s meeting at Target Center showed there’s still a place in this game for the center when Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic and Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins pushed each other around all night in a battle of brutes.

There might not be a place for either in the starting lineup when West plays East next month because voters worldwide choosing on every social-media platform imaginable overwhelmingly prefer Houston’s Dwight Howard. Fans apparently haven’t noticed that both Cousins and Pekovic at times have been dominant. Coaches no longer have to include a center when they pick reserves, either.

“I don’t know how that’s going to go,” Wolves coach Rick Adelman said, “but they’re both having great years.”

Howard was second among all West “frontcourt” players — behind Oklahoma City small forward Kevin Durant and just ahead of Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin — in the last batch of balloting results released last week before voting ends Monday.

Starters will be announced Thursday starting at 6 p.m. on TNT before its weekly doubleheader. Coaches’ picks for reserves will be announced Jan. 30.

Wolves star Kevin Love is fourth in the latest fan balloting, 17,000 votes behind Griffin for that final starting spot and 26,000 behind Howard. For the second consecutive year, Howard likely will represent centers everywhere even if fans and coaches aren’t required to do so and even if he once again might not be deserving. Wolves fans have one more day to vote Love into the game by voting via text, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or at nba.com/asb.(end new)

Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant leads the West’s “backcourt” voting and he has barely played all year.

Western Conference coaches still can vote in Cousins, Pekovic or the L.A. Clippers DeAndre Jordan, even though the center category has been eliminated.

“Somebody recently made the statement, too, that All-Stars should only come from teams above .500,” Sacramento coach Mike Malone said. “The only problem with that is in the Eastern Conference, the All-Stars would only be comprised from four teams.”

Malone believes his guy should play in New Orleans, even if his team’s 14-24 record seldom gets a player chosen by coaches for the game. Cousins has rewarded the Kings’ faith of a four-year, $62 million contract extension last summer by growing up and putting up monstrous statistics nearly worthy of all that money.

Intimidated by Pekovic’s physicality in previous seasons, Cousins outplayed him Wednesday, using his strength to keep Pekovic away from the basket better than any opposing center this season.

Wolves coach Rick Adelman said he believes Pekovic’s All-Star time could come, just not this season for a guy who hasn’t cracked the fans’ top 15 frontcourt voting. He said it usually takes players two or three years of playing at that level to establish All-Star credibility with coaches.

“I don’t really think about it a few years ago,” said Pekovic, who once had little reason to think about all All-Star procedures. “Now it’s hard. It’s their [fans and coaches]decision. Nobody can change it. Of course, the dream of every player is to play for All- Star. I’m a real man. I know what my limits are and everything. I’m with my team. All- Star, I can’t really say. Help my team, I can do this.”

NBA Short Takes

Bruise Brothers … and Tattoo Twins

Timberwolves star Kevin Love joked in conversation with fans on the team’s Twitter account Tuesday that he’s going with Nikola Pekovic soon to get a tattoo.

Not true, but big Pek is willing. “I will pay for it,” he said. “I will drive him.”

Pekovic has tattoos nearly everywhere, including a bed of skulls and a fierce warrior.

What might suit Love?

“A flower right here,” Pekovic said, turning and cupping his hands around his lower back just above his belt line.

Giving his team a big thumbs up

Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks took his team to the movies at halftime of Thursday’s game at Houston.

He made sure his players watched each and every one of the 12 three-pointers the Rockets made in a first half when they scored 73 points. In the second half, they didn’t make a single three and scored just 19 points, setting the largest scoring differential between halves in NBA history and recording the second-fewest points in a second half in league history.

“I’ve never seen anything like that,” Brooks told reporters after a 104-92 comeback victory. “That’s inspiring.”

Parting words

Sacramento first-year coach Mike Malone, when asked if Pekovic might be one of the few centers in the NBA who can match his DeMarcus Cousins for strength: “Not ‘might,’ he does,’’ Malone said. ‘‘I would take the ‘might’ out of it. Pekovic looks like the guy from the Superman movie.”

Wolves Week Ahead

Tuesday: 8 p.m. at Utah (FSN)

Friday: 9:30 p.m. at Golden State (FSN)

Saturday: 9 p.m. at Portland (NBA TV)

Player to watch:

Trey Burke, Utah

The guy the Wolves could have drafted and kept with the ninth pick in last summer’s draft — they didn’t because they had no need at point guard — was the Western Conference’s Rookie of the Month for December. He’s the first Jazz rookie to win that award since Karl Malone in 1985.

Voices

"It almost takes an act of Congress to go out and foul somebody."

Wolves coach Rick Adelman, lamenting his team’s lack of toughness defensively.

  • related content

  • NBA short takes: No tattoos for Love

    Saturday January 18, 2014

    Bruise Brothers … and Tattoo TwinsTimberwolves star Kevin Love joked in conversation with fans on the team’s Twitter account Tuesday...

  • Wolves week ahead

    Saturday January 18, 2014

    THE WOLVES’ WEEK AHEADTuesday: 8 p.m. at Utah (FSN)Friday: 9:30 p.m. at Golden State (FSN)Saturday: 9 p.m. at Portland (NBA...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Detroit 69 FINAL
Philadelphia 89
Portland 94 FINAL
Cleveland 99
Sacramento 102 FINAL
Toronto 119
Boston 98 FINAL
Minnesota 110
Dallas 94 FINAL
Houston 99
Denver 93 FINAL
New Orleans 85
Brooklyn 102 FINAL
Atlanta 113
Oklahoma City 92 FINAL
New York 100
Charlotte 86 FINAL
San Antonio 95
LA Clippers 94 FINAL
Utah 89
Washington 98 FINAL
Phoenix 106
Toronto 1 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Pittsburgh 0 FINAL
Washington 4
Chicago 3 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Temple 86 FINAL
UCF 62
Winthrop 75 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 68
Lafayette 59 FINAL
Colgate 54
Northeastern 60 FINAL
Drexel 65
Wake Forest 76 FINAL
Florida State 82
Rhode Island 64 FINAL
Fordham 63
Delaware 82 FINAL
James Madison 88
South Carolina 58 FINAL
LSU 64
New Hampshire 63 FINAL
Maine 58
Seton Hall 80 FINAL
Marquette 70
Binghamton 68 FINAL
UMBC 56
American Univ 54 FINAL
Navy 64
Elon 65 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 82
Wright State 76 FINAL
Oakland 84
Minnesota 58 FINAL
Penn State 63
Duquesne 55 FINAL
Richmond 86
SMU 63 FINAL
South Florida 52
Hartford 66 FINAL
Stony Brook 72
Albany 47 FINAL
Vermont 44
Hofstra 79 FINAL
William & Mary 100
UNC-Asheville 74 FINAL
Longwood 64
Radford 84 FINAL
Char Southern 77
Holy Cross 0 Postponed
Loyola-Maryland 0
Duke 73 FINAL
Notre Dame 77
Texas Tech 36 FINAL
Oklahoma 81
Oregon State 55 FINAL
Arizona State 73
Morehead State 82 FINAL
Austin Peay 69
Drake 69 FINAL
Bradley 57
Lehigh 62 FINAL
Bucknell 68
Rice 48 FINAL
Houston 59
Missouri State 57 FINAL
Illinois State 67
Loyola-Chicago 47 FINAL
Wichita State 58
Nebraska Omaha 64 FINAL
South Dakota St 86
Northern Iowa 59 FINAL
Southern Ill 52
Louisville 81 FINAL
Boston College 72
St Johns 74 FINAL
Creighton 77
East Carolina 58 FINAL
Memphis 70
Georgia Tech 70 FINAL
Miami-Florida 50
Miss State 73 FINAL
Ole Miss 79
Clemson 68 FINAL
NC State 57
Indiana 67 FINAL
Purdue 83
Kansas 64 FINAL
TCU 61
Oregon 56 FINAL
Arizona 90
Air Force 66 FINAL
San Jose St 52
Stanford 84 FINAL
Washington 74
Rider 56 FINAL
Siena 49
Dayton 76 FINAL
Richmond 62
Eastern Kentucky 53 FINAL
Jacksonville St 73
Saint Josephs 0 Postponed
Saint Louis 0
UMBC 71 FINAL
Binghamton 55
Akron 60 FINAL
Ohio U 72
Ball State 72 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 55
Memphis 56 FINAL
Cincinnati 44
East Carolina 32 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 87
Murray State 59 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 75
Kent State 63 FINAL
Central Michigan 65
UT Martin 64 FINAL
Tennessee St 58
Eastern Michigan 56 FINAL
Western Mich 83
Bucknell 61 FINAL
Lehigh 76
Indiana 57 FINAL
Michigan State 72
Colgate 56 FINAL
Lafayette 58
Fordham 66 FINAL
Davidson 45
Duquesne 76 FINAL
St Bonaventure 64
George Mason 66 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 70
Detroit 59 FINAL
Youngstown St 58
Army 0 Postponed
Boston U 0
Loyola-Maryland 0 Postponed
Holy Cross 0
SMU 58 FINAL
Tulsa 74
Oklahoma St 54 FINAL
Kansas State 52
West Virginia 57 FINAL
Texas Tech 73
Denver 56 FINAL
South Dakota 82
Northwestern St 46 FINAL
Central Arkansas 63
Austin Peay 67 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 87
Kansas 61 FINAL
Iowa State 56
Bowling Green 50 FINAL
Northern Ill 67
Penn State 64 FINAL
Minnesota 75
San Jose St 80 FINAL
Air Force 83
Boise State 82 FINAL
Colorado State 83
Utah State 51 FINAL
Wyoming 86
San Diego State 50 FINAL
Fresno State 57
Nevada 52 FINAL
UNLV 75
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which local team is currently the biggest disappointment?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close