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News » Durant's time will come


Durant's time will come


Durant's time will come
After All-Star Game starters were announced, TNT analysts debated who should be reserves.

The Thunder's Kevin Durant received one endorsement. Chris Webber said a team's win-loss record should not be a key factor.

Webber is in the minority. Durant said as much when asked earlier this month if he expected to be chosen for the Feb. 15 game in Phoenix.

"No, I don't think so, because one of the requirements is the team has got to win," Durant said. "That's a big part of being an All-Star, leading your team to victories."

When Durant made that statement the Thunder was 4-30. But Oklahoma City is 5-5 since those remarks.

The reigning Rookie of the Year has worthy credentials. Durant made a strong closing argument with a career-high 46 points and 15 rebounds Friday night in a loss to the Clippers.

Durant is sixth in the league in scoring (24.7). The only Western Conference players ahead of Duarnt on the scoring list are Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki. But Durant also plays for the team with the league's worst record.

So who is Durant's competition?

Nowitzki, Brandon Roy and Carmelo Anthony probably are locks when reserves are announced Thursday night on TNT.

Deron Williams, second in the league in assists, was on the Olympic team which makes him a slam dunk.

Shaquille O'Neal and Al Jefferson are backup center candidates. Both could make it but one might be left off.

Sidelined most of January by a hand injury, Anthony is expected to return the next 10 days but could skip the All-Star Game to help his hand fully heal.

Even if all of them make it that's only six reserves. That leaves one roster spot. Two if both centers don't make it. Three if Anthony isn't on the team. Chauncey Billups and Tony Parker probably will be selected.

If another spot opens up Pau Gasol's stats (17.5 points, 9.2 rebounds) are solid but it wouldn't be an injustice if he's left off. Same goes for David West (20.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg).

Two-time MVP Steve Nash (14.2 ppg, 9.3 apg) will get some support but probably won't make it. Tracy McGrady has missed too many games.

Other candidates like Ron Artest, Kevin Martin, Manu Ginobili and LaMarcus Aldridge can't match Durant's qualifications.

Ultimately, Durant's fate rests in the hands of Western Conference coaches like Gregg Popovich, Byron Scott, Jerry Sloan, George Karl, Don Nelson, Rick Adelman, Kevin McHale and their peers.

Since Durant is being mentioned as a future member of Team USA in international competition, Durant will be an All-Star. It's just a question of whether he makes it this season.

GOING TO PHOENIX?

Thunder players in Rookie-Sophomore mix

The Thunder is expected to have three players - Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook - selected for the rookie-sophomore game. Rookie-sophomore rosters will be announced Wednesday. The game will be played Feb. 13 in Phoenix and be televised nationally on TNT.

It's a showcase for the league's young stars. Each roster is limited to nine players. The game is two 20-minute halves, similar to players' college days.

Durant and Green played last year for the rookies, who lost for the sixth consecutive year. Durant led all rookies with 23 points. Durant made 10 of 19 shots and grabbed eight rebounds. Green scored nine points and had five rebounds.

SNEAK PEEK

Nets, Grizzlies coming to town

Another very favorable schedule for the Thunder. Three games. No back-to-backs. Two games at home.

→Monday: New Jersey. The Thunder lost in overtime at New Jersey two weeks ago when Brook Lopez scored 31 points.

→Wednesday: Memphis. OKC won the only meeting, the team's first road win, on Nov. 29, the night of Bedlam football.

→Friday: at Utah: Have split two meetings. Both teams have won at home. The Thunder romped to a win two weeks ago.

INSIDE SCOOP

Jefferson campaigns for All-Star slot

→To try to improve Al Jefferson's odds of being named an All-Star reserve, the Timberwolves sent every Western Conference coach a $200 GPS unit, dubbed the "Double-Double Machine," which plays a highlight video.

Yao Ming set a single-game Rockets record, going 12-for-12 from the field against Miami. Yao said he was lucky a few missed tip-ins weren't counted. He is more proud of a 21-of-21 game in the 2002 Chinese Finals.

→Kirk Hinrich recently returned after missing two months with a hand injury to bolster the Bulls' shot at the playoffs. Chicago players have missed 107 games due to injury. The Bulls had 70 all of last season.

→Earl Monroe, named one of the NBA's 50 greatest players, grew up in Philadelphia like Kobe Bryant. Monroe recently stunned Bryant by snapping a picture of Kobe, saying he's the only player he's ever wanted a picture from.

→Shawn Marion said he's tired of trade rumors that have him going to Dallas (for Josh Howard), Sacramento (for Brad Miller) or Toronto (for Jermaine O'Neal).

→Matt Carroll, recently acquired in a trade with Charlotte, will be given a chance to earn the Mavericks' starting shooting guard slot. Rick Carlisle prefers Jason Terry (20.6 average) coming off the bench like the Spurs' Manu Ginobili.

BY THE NUMBERS

83

Consecutive free throws made by Toronto guard Jose Calderon, a streak that dates back to his final three attempts last season. Calderon, who missed two weeks with a hamstring injury, is 80-of-80 at the line this season. Friday night, Calderon passed Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (1993) for second best all-time, 14 away from tying record-holder Michael Williams (1993).

TEMPERATURE GAUGE

Who's hot

Charlotte. The Bobcats are 11-7 since the trade with Phoenix for guard Raja Bell and forward Boris Diaw. It might only take 36 to 40 wins to earn the No. 8 seed in the East. Charlotte is among several teams with a realistic shot of staying in the chase all season.

Who's not

Toronto. Firing Sam Mitchell, the league's Coach of the Year two years ago, wasn't a good move. The Raptors were 8-9 when they axed Mitchell. They're 9-21 under Jay Triano. A recent seven-game losing streak has led to rumors Chris Bosh and/or Jermaine O'Neal might be traded.

2010 WORLD GAMES

Looking ahead

If the United States wins the gold medal at the 2010 World Championships in Turkey, Team USA automatically qualifies for the 2012 Olympics in London. That's why USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo wants many of the country's superstars to play in Turkey.

After making a three-year commitment for the Olympics in China, players like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade might want to take off in 2010, especially since Wade and James will be involved in major free agent negotiations.

Colangelo plans to hold a camp this summer for young stars like Kevin Durant, Greg Oden and Derrick Rose. Colangelo will talk with all players at the All-Star Game in Phoenix, hoping to get some commitments for the 2010 World Games.

"They can take 2009 off, get it done in 2010 and then take 2011 off," Colangelo said. "That's the perfect scenario if they're willing to do that."

While Colangelo would love to assemble his "first string," some feel a few stars, mixed with "the young kids," might be more beneficial for developing depth for Team USA's future.

WITNESSING HISTORY

Players check out inauguration

A few NBA players traveled to Washington, D.C., to watch President Barack Obama be sworn in.

Dwight Howard, who received the most votes for the All-Star Game, asked team officials to change practice days. Howard woke up at 4:30 a.m. to take a train to the nation's capital. He bundled up, using towels under his coat to keep warm.

"I wouldn't have missed this if I had to walk from China," Howard was quoted. "There were a million people of all colors and genders and race. It was crazy and fun. I think I had a tear in my eye. Or it was just that cold."

Celtics star Ray Allen was disconsolate last Sunday when he thought inauguration tickets being sent him had been stolen. A short time later, they showed up, compliments of Illinois Rep. Tim Johnson.

"It was a great day for me as a black man and also a great day for me as an American," Allen said.


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: January 28, 2009

 

 
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