July 23, 2016

Partly sunny

No Mo All-Stars

INDEPENDENCE — There were no Mo NBA All-Stars for the Cavaliers.
The team with the best record in the league (36-11) will have to make due with starter LeBron James as its lone representative Feb. 14 in Dallas, as point guard Mo Williams and center Shaquille O’Neal were not selected as reserves by Eastern Conference coaches in voting announced Thursday.
Williams, currently out with a sprained left shoulder, is Cleveland’s second-leading scorer at 16.9 points per game. The point guard is also averaging 3.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists while shooting .429 from beyond the 3-point arc, but East coaches chose Boston’s Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo, Atlanta’s Joe Johnson and Chicago’s Derrick Rose as the backup guards.
Also named to the East team as reserves were Atlanta center Al Horford, Toronto forward Chris Bosh and Charlotte forward Gerald Wallace.
“It is unfortunate because I’m a firm believer that record has something to do with it,” Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said following a light workout at Cleveland Clinic Courts. “There are a lot of talented guys in this business who can be put in situations where they have the freedom to kind of go and do what they want. Winning and losing doesn’t always happen the right way, so there’s not as much pressure on guys to perform the right way and still get numbers.
“Mo has done that for us as our second-leading scorer. For us not to be represented by anybody but LeBron is tough, but it’s out of our control.”
Williams didn’t speak with the media Thursday, but said Wednesday he was “expecting not to make” the All-Star team.
A year ago, when Cleveland also had the best record in the league, Williams also wasn’t selected, but ended up making the team as the second person named to replace an injured player.
It’s hard to argue Williams should have been selected over Rondo (14.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 9.7 apg), Pierce (18.9, 4.8, 3.6) or Johnson (21.3, 4.8, 4.8), but he might have an argument when it comes to second-year man Rose (19.8, 3.7, 5.9), especially given the fact the Bulls (22-22) are a .500 team.
“I can’t say he should have made it over this guy, that guy, that guy,” Brown said. “I don’t want to get into that. We have the best record in the league. In a way, it can be looked upon as (a sign of disrespect to the Cavaliers), but there’s not much you can do about it.”
Williams wasn’t the only East player left out in the cold, as New York center David Lee (19.4 ppg, 11.4 apg) didn’t make the team, either. Williams also wasn’t helped by the fact fan favorite Allen Iverson of Philadelphia was voted a started despite averaging just 14.3 points and 4.3 assists.
O’Neal had an outside shot at best, as Lee and New Jersey’s Brook Lopez (19.0 ppg, 9.4 rpg) have much better statistics than the 7-foot-1, 325-pound center. Horford, who was selected, doesn’t have eye-popping stats (13.6 ppg, 9.8 rpg), but the Hawks, like the Cavaliers, are one of the top teams in the East.
“It’s always been a bureaucratic process,” O’Neal said Wednesday following a win over Minnesota. “I’ve been fortunate to go (15) times, so from this point on in my career, I won’t complain if I don’t make it. It’s all about the voting and who the fans want to see.”
There’s still a possibility Williams could be named to replace an injured player, but right now Boston forward Kevin Garnett, voted a starter by the fans, is the only East participant who is ailing. Not only that, but Williams probably is not a likely replacement because he will not be healthy enough to play in the game.
The East’s other starters will be Orlando’s Dwight Howard and Miami’s Dwyane Wade.
Overall, the Celtics have three All-Star selections, while Atlanta has two.
“I don’t know what it’s going to take,” Brown said. “The Hawks haven’t won it (all) and they have Joe Johnson and Horford on it, so I don’t know. Your guess is as good as mine.”
The Western Conference reserves will be the Los Angeles Lakers’ Pau Gasol, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki, New Orleans’ Chris Paul, Utah’s Deron Williams, Portland’s Brandon Roy and Memphis’ Zach Randolph.
The West starters will be the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, Phoenix’s Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire, San Antonio’s Tim Duncan and Denver’s Carmelo Anthony.
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rickn@ohio.net.

Rick Noland About Rick Noland

Rick Noland is the Cavs beat writer for The Gazette and the author of "Over Time," a compilation of stories he's written in more than 30 years as a journalist. He can be reached at 330-721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.