Longhorns in the NBA: Durant’s All-Star MVP powers Team LeBron to victory

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Photo Credit: Virginia Scherer | Daily Texan Staff

With two months left in the season, the NBA took its annual break to celebrate the All-Star weekend in Charlotte. Former 3-point shooting champion Stephen Curry lost to Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Harris in this year’s contest. Harris, a 2014 second-round pick and former G-League player, is currently the league’s second-best shooter from deep in terms of percentage.

Oklahoma City guard Hamidou Diallo took home the dunk contest trophy, clinching it with a dunk where he jumped over Shaquille O’Neal. Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum won the skills challenge by hitting a half-court shot.

Former Longhorn big man Jarrett Allen participated in the USA vs. World game Friday night. Allen scored two points and grabbed five rebounds in 15 minutes of action. No other Longhorns participated Friday or Saturday, but two Texas alumni played for Team LeBron alongside some of the league’s best in the Sunday night All-Star Game.

 

Kevin Durant

Former Longhorn Kevin Durant added another trophy to his collection after taking home MVP honors in the All-Star Game. Durant scored a team-high 31 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the field, and 6-of-9 shooting from deep. Durant also grabbed seven rebounds and dished out two assists.

Team LeBron trailed Team Giannis by 16 points at the end of the first quarter, but outscored Team Giannis by 14 in the third. Of Durant’s 31 on the night, 11 came in the fourth quarter alone, helping Team LeBron win by a comfortable 178-164 margin.

On the season, Durant is continuing to perform at an MVP level in every game. Durant currently averages 28 points, seven rebounds, and six assists. Those numbers would be at the top of the league in other years, but the performances from Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden, and Paul George have all been a step above Durant’s. This will probably be the only MVP award Durant wins this year, but he will more than likely add another ring this June. The Warriors continue their quest for another title with a matchup against the Sacramento Kings on Thursday night.

 

LaMarcus Aldridge 

While Durant took home MVP honors, former Texas big man LaMarcus Aldridge didn’t do much more than show up to the game. Aldridge finished with two points and four rebounds on 1-of-2 shooting. His only bucket came in the first quarter around the four-minute mark. Aldridge played a total of 11 minutes on the night, one minute more than the soon-to-be-retired Dwyane Wade.

During the regular season, though, Aldridge has played like the star he is. He’s averaging 21 points, nine rebounds and three assists on 51 percent shooting from the field. Aldridge has also kept the Spurs afloat amid an increasingly crowded Western Conference.

But Aldridge’s heroics may not be enough. The Spurs have a paltry 1–5 record in the last six games leading up to the All-Star break. The risk is that they sit only two games ahead of the Sacramento Kings, which holds the ninth seed. Faltering too much down the line could lead to the Spurs missing the playoffs for the first time since the 1996-1997 season. They’ll need a continued effort from Aldridge if they hope to keep the streak alive. San Antonio plays the Toronto Raptors on Friday evening.