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On NBA All-Star weekend, Buck Williams, Duck luck and 'Posting Up'


Observations from your local scribe as we begin a new sports week. ...

• If I’m LaMarcus Aldridge, I’m not worrying for a second about going scoreless in 11 minutes in the NBA All-Star Game.

The Trail Blazer power forward’s playing time or performance don’t matter nearly as much as him being honored as an all-star for the second time. He got a little extra rest, which he’ll need as Portland swings into the second half of the regular season Tuesday night against Phoenix at the Rose Garden.

• The All-Star Game got competitive down the stretch, which was good to see, especially after the Rising Stars Challenge fiasco two nights earlier.

Kobe Bryant’s two fourth-quarter blocked shots on LeBron James were a highlight. Looked as if Kobe was taking personally the debate over which of the two’s star shinest brightest.

My favorite players in the game were Joakim Noah and David Lee, who didn’t act as if they were embarrassed to actually hustle and play a little defense.

• Which brings us to the “Rising Stars Challenge,” a mess of a get-together between the league’s rookies and second-year players that ought to be abolished if it continues along the lines of Friday’s debacle at Houston.

It was instructive what Portland rookie Damian Lillard had to say after that sorry exhibition.

“In these type of games, it’s hard to figure out how you’re supposed to play,” he said. “You don’t want to be too cool, (but) you don’t want to be out there looking like it’s a regular game. ... it was kind of like a careless environment, so you almost get careless, too. It’s hard to play really well and be careless at the same time.”

Question: Why be careless? Who set those rules?

I know, many of the all-stars have set the standard by which playing no defense is a badge of honor. It’s ridiculous, turning these games into a succession of lob passes and 3-point attempts. Blake Griffin scored nine baskets on nine dunks Sunday. That’s basketball?

If I’m paying a zillion dollars for a ticket at the Toyota Center, or even if I’m sitting on the couch at home, I like to see a real game. And yes, I understand you want to be careful about sustaining an injury. You can still play hard and give the fans their money’s worth.

• In Houston, Comcast SportsNet Northwest’s Chris Haynes interviewed NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver, who said the league has held discussions with the Blazers about having the All-Star Game in Portland.

That’s good to hear. It’s all but forgotten that the City of Roses once landed the All-Star Game. The year, I believe, was 1983.

Then the league decided it was going to have only major markets play host to the game, staging the ‘82 game in New Jersey and the ‘83 contest in Los Angeles before reversing field and opting to move it around again.

The NBA never got back to Portland, always citing the lack of a headquarters hotel and accommodations in the downtown area, which seems more like an excuse than anything. And through the years, the Blazers have been uninterested in taking on the headache of staging the event.

Until now, perhaps.

• Count Buck Williams among those concerned about the high number of average minutes by Portland starters Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews and Damian Lillard.

“It’s going to take a toll the second half of the season as far as injuries and their performance,” says Williams, who lost his assistant coach job when Nate McMillan was dismissed as the Trail Blazers’ head coach last March. “They can’t continue to play those kind of minutes.”

On the other hand, Williams says coach Terry Stotts has little to turn to in the way of reserves.

“They can’t go to their bench right,” Williams says. “It’s urgent they make a deal (before Thursday’s trade deadline) for a legitimate bench player or two. My concern isn’t as much about the record as the injury factor (with the starters).”

Williams is living in Potomac, Md., with hopes to return to an NBA coaching staff next season.

“I’m trying to get back to the league,” he says. “I have my horses in the race. We’ll see what happens.”

• Oregon’s basketball team has led a charmed existence in the Palouse in recent years, the latest example coming with Saturday night’s mind-boggling end to a 79-77 UO win over Washington State.

After WSU’s Royce Woolridge bombed in a long 3-pointer to tie the score at 77-77 with 6.9 seconds left in the first overtime, the game appeared headed to a second extra session. That is, until Dexter Kernich-Drew reached out and grabbed E.J. Singler, intentionally fouling the Oregon senior with 3.8 seconds to go.

Singler dropped in a pair and the Ducks were gifted a victory.

I’m still waiting for an explanation from the local daily, which never conferred with anyone on the Wazoo side and quoted only Singler, who observed, “I don’t think they knew what the score was.”

The Cougars did, or most of them. Kernich-Drew obviously didn’t.

“We all make mistakes,” WSU coach Ken Bone told the Spokane Spokesman-Review, adding that Kernich-Drew was “bummed out.”

No kidding.

Washington State gave another one away to the Ducks in Pullman on Dec. 31, 2009. The Cougars appeared to have won the game in the first overtime when DeAngelo Casto hit a finger roll with two seconds left for a two-point lead. But the Cougars were called for a technical foul after members of the bench came onto the court to celebrate. UO’s Tajuan Porter sank two free throws to send the game into double overtime and the Ducks won 91-89 on Dec. 31, 2009.

You can’t write a script any better than that.

• A shout-out to my old partner in crime, Dwight Jaynes, who has just completed his third season of “Posting Up” on CSN.

CSN aired a series of the half-hour interview shows Sunday night, featuring sit-downs with the likes of Herb Brown, Terry Stotts, Charles Barkley and Stan Love, among others.

It’s the perfect scenario for Jaynes, who has been on the Northwest sportswriting/casting scene even longer than me and is better than anybody at probing his subjects. Jaynes has gone in-depth with such as Phil Knight, Mike Riley, P.J. Carlesimo, Darwin Barney, Dale Scott and the great Rowdy Roddy Piper. The resulting shows have been top-shelf journalism and entertainment rolled into one.

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Twitter: @kerryeggers