First-time coaches enjoy All-Star experience
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- The two first-time coaches in Sunday's NBA All-Star game enjoyed the experience. It just was a lot different than their usual nights on the sideline.
Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks, who helped the Western Conference to a 152-149 victory over the East, joked he was concerned about his team's depth coming into the game.
"I had a great opportunity. I played in this league for over a decade, but never, ever, ever - and rightfully so - was in an All-Star locker room," Brooks said. "It was a great honor.
For Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, losing wasn't as painful as it usually is.
When Thibodeau was asked what he told his team at halftime after it allowed 89 points, he laughed.
"You put that many great players on the floor - you're in a bind on almost every possession," Thibodeau said.
Bryant broke Jordan's record of 262 points on a dunk with 4:57 left in the third quarter. That gave him 20 points for the game. He finished with 27 points and now has 271.
Owner of a record-tying four All-Star MVP awards, Bryant began the night with 244 points in the 12 games he had played in. He passed Oscar Robertson (246 points) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (251) earlier in Sunday night's game.
Bryant tied the record on two free throws in the third quarter, taking a break between them to wipe blood from his nose after a hard foul from Miami's Dwyane Wade.
Jordan played in 13 All-Star games.
FAREWELL TO ORLANDO?: Magic center Dwight Howard, who has been hounded by trade talk all season, had an OK night in his home arena.
He finished with nine points and 10 rebounds, and said he enjoyed the experience.
"The weekend for me was a lot of work, but I did have a lot of fun. I enjoyed being around the fans," Howard said. "That's what the weekend is all about. That took a lot of pressure off me - just being around fans - having a great time - meeting people."
Howard welcomed the crowd to the game in pregame remarks, calling Orlando: "our city."
"What else do you want me to say?" Howard said.
SHORT NIGHT FOR BYNUM: Andrew Bynum was expecting a short night in his All-Star debut - and he got it.
The Los Angeles Lakers center, who has battled a number of knee injuries, told ESPN Radio that his doctor thought he should be limited to six or seven minutes after receiving an injection Friday.
Bynum played the game's first 5:31, and didn't return. He missed all three field goals and had three rebounds.
Bynum has been healthy this year, and the procedure was just considered routine maintenance during the three-day break.
But at least he finally got here, joining teammate Kobe Bryant in the Western Conference starting lineup.
"It's been tough for me," Bynum said Friday. "I think I had the opportunity to make it a couple years ago, and I got hurt. That's never fun. It takes a lot of time. But I'm just happy that my injuries have been ones I can recover from and come back and get strong again without any lingering effect."
IN UNIFORM FOR UNITY: Twenty years after playing in the NBA All-Star game here, Chris Mullin and Clyde Drexler were back on the court in Orlando.
So how did it feel to be out there again?
"It hurts," Mullin said.
The two Hall of Famers played in the first NBA Cares Special Olympics Unity Sports basketball game. Dikembe Mutombo and Sam Perkins also took part, along with WNBA players Lindsey Harding, Ruth Riley, Marie Ferdinand-Harris and Sophia Young, and 12 Special Olympics athletes.
Mullin was more screener than shooter, and Drexler isn't quite as much "The Glide" anymore.
"A little bit," he said. "There's not a lot of glide left."
The format followed the Special Olympics' unified sports program, which combines athletes with and without intellectual disabilities as teammates. The 12 players who were chosen to play Sunday on center court at the All-Star Jam Session were nominated by chapters throughout the country, and the NBA alums were impressed with their skills. Jesse Burnett of Colorado even lofted a layup high over Mutombo's attempt at a blocked shot.
"I'll tell you what, these guys are really good athletes," Drexler said. "You saw just how skillful they are. They really love the game."
NBA rookies Kemba Walker and Derrick Williams served as the coaches. Walker's East team rallied from eight points down in the final minutes to tie the game at 57 with a half-minute left, and it ended in a tie.
Mullin hopes the game will continue.
"I think it's a great idea, this unity game, and I think it will go even further as this thing takes off," he said. "When you integrate people helping each other, that's what it's all about."
POWER OF YOUTH: First-time All-Star Andre Iguodala welcomed his three-day respite in Orlando, but said the 76ers are poised to get back to work after ending the first half on a five-game losing streak.
Philadelphia is in fourth place in the East and boasts one of the younger rosters in the conference, with rookie LaVoy Allen getting some starts and guards Jodie Meeks, Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner - all in their third NBA seasons - all big contributors as well.
Though it might seem that would give the Sixers at least a small edge over a few of the older teams in the East like Boston down the stretch dealing with the compact schedule, Iguodala said it is actually the opposite.
That's why he thinks it will be incumbent on veterans like himself and leading scorer Louis Williams to keep the Sixers on track if they want to be a factor in the postseason.
"I think it's helped us, but for us it's still mostly being tired and being drained mentally - like any other team," Iguodala said. "And that can hurt the younger guys. The older guys are used to the schedule. So mentally they know how to prepare themselves, where the younger guys can get out of tune or can kind of lose focus.
"They haven't seen anything like this before. So, I'm just trying to keep the guys on track and just trying to continue with our success."
GOING (BACK) TO DISNEY WORLD: It doesn't sound as though the NBA will wait another 20 years to return to Orlando for the All-Star game.
Commissioner David Stern praised the city's qualifications for holding the league's midseason spectacle during his annual Saturday news conference, calling it the "perfect city to host an All-Star game with all things good, from the hotels to the golf courses to the spectacular Amway Center."
"There's no better building in the world, and we're delighted to be here," he said. "To answer the question from Orlando, we look forward to coming back, but I can't say when."
Stern has long said that owners want the game in warm-weather cities with good entertainment options, which makes Orlando an obvious candidate. But the old arena simply wasn't equipped to host the game, so the league hadn't been back here since 1992.
The Amway Center opened in 2010, and Kobe Bryant also said he thinks it's the league's best building.
But there's more than just an arena, which eliminates other cities. Stern was asked if Portland could be a candidate, and both he and Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said the city may come up short because it doesn't have enough hotel space to house the league's guests.
"Just the NBA alone accounts for almost 11,000 room nights in the All-Star city, and that's historically been the issue in Portland, because of course what we now are calling All-Star week has expanded to the point that there are also needs for thousands of additional rooms beyond what we're booking," Silver said.
"So we'd love to find a way to get to Portland, but that continues to be the issue for Portland and many other ideal cities, and just a function of not enough hotel rooms."
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