West Downs East in KG's 15th All-Star Game
HOUSTON – Kevin Garnett participated in his 15th career All-Star game on Sunday but his Eastern Conference team fell to the Western Conference 143-138. Houston’s Toyota Center hosted the contest, which was the 62nd All-Star Game in the league’s history.
Garnett started for the East after being voted into the game by fans around the world. He played the first 6:26 of the contest and headed to the bench having pulled in three rebounds, which led the game at that point, to go along with one assist. That was all we saw from KG, as he rested for the remainder of the night and took in the contest as a fan.
“(The minutes) were right where I wanted it to be,” Garnett said after the game.
“I told Erik (Spoelstra) that it was about the young guys, a young guys’ game. Put me in for a couple of minutes and then I was cool.”
Spoelstra obliged even though he had indicated earlier this weekend that KG would be on the floor for a solid chunk of the game. That was not the case on Sunday as the coach heeded Garnett’s words and allowed the 18-year veteran to get some rest.
That’s a word that Garnett was concentrating on all weekend long. The All-Star break is exactly that – a break – for vets like KG. He would have loved to have taken a long weekend back home in Malibu, Calif., but limiting himself to slightly more than six minutes of playing time will at least give his body and mind a bit of relaxation.
“To be honest, what was on my mind was getting the proper rest and enjoying myself,” said Garnett. “Trying to make sure everyone was with me enjoyed themselves, and I accomplished that.”
There’s a reason why the future Hall of Famer set those goals. He has a lot of miles on his legs and he’s about to tack on even more on during the second half of the NBA season. The Celtics have 30 more regular season games on the schedule and that slate begins Tuesday night. These are things Garnett thought about as he spent the weekend in Houston.
“In the back of my mind you have Denver Tuesday, Lakers Wednesday,” Garnett stated after the All-Star game. “I was just thinking about the schedule and having to face these teams second half.”
The Celtics versus Lakers rivalry will continue on Wednesday but Garnett will not allow himself to overlook Tuesday’s game in Denver. The C’s and Nuggets went to triple overtime just eight days ago, so Boston knows it will have its hands full coming out of the break.
“Mentally you have to be ready for Denver,” said Garnett. “Their pace is incredible, especially when they’re at home. They’re 22-3 at home – a great home record.”
Boston’s schedule raced through Garnett’s mind but he still managed to enjoy an incredible weekend in Houston. He spent a ton of time with family and friends and even made some new ones along the way.
“I had a good time, kind of let my guard down and got to know some of the new guys like PG (Paul George) and Joakim (Noah), Luol Deng,” he admitted. “It was cool.”
The game that was played on Sunday was also pretty cool. Garnett was a starter in one of the most competitive All-Star contests the league has ever seen. Throughout 48 minutes of basketball, there were only 44 seconds in the entire game that featured a double-digit lead for either team. This was a neck-and-neck battle from start to finish and could have gone either way in the final minutes.
In the end, it was the Western Conference that came out on top and sent Garnett and his teammates on the road with a sour taste in their mouths. Still, though, KG was able to enjoy his 15th career All-Star weekend and left the Toyota Center with a smile on his face. That smile will last well into Monday, because that’s when he’ll be able to rejoin his real teammates for the remainder of the season.
“It will be good to see everybody,” Garnett said of the Celtics. “I look forward to that."