66th NBA All-Star Game — for better or worse?

The NBA All-Star Game is wide open, and in my view it’s difficult to determine the level of intensity when one player with that much talent on

the West All-Star team takes 39 shots. West All-Stars 192, East 182 made it the highest scoring NBA All-Star Game ever with 374 combined points.

We should not really be surprised — the signs were there leading into the All-Star Game. Eight different All-Star players scored 50 or more points in NBA games in the first half of the season. That’s an all-time league record. That theme was carried out by Anthony Davis of New Orleans. Yes, all eight players who scored 50 or more in the first half of the season played in the All-Star Game.

Davis attempted 39 shots. All but four were two-point shots — he did not make a three-point shot, so Davis’s record was not aided by the three ball. He made 26 shots for 52 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. Amazingly, he did not attempt a free throw, which tells you all you need to know about the level of the All-Star defensive effort. He broke Wilt Chamberlain’s longstanding 55-year scoring mark of 42 points set in 1962.

Kevin Durant had a triple double 21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Russell Westbrook, last year’s All-Star MVP, did not start; however, he had 41 points. He was attempting to win the MVP award for the third year in a row.

Things that stand out for me: The East shot 56.9 percent, the West 58.7 percent. Three-point attempts: 63 by the West, 59 by the East, for a total 122 three-point attempts of which 43 shots were made.

Cleveland’s LeBron James said that Stephen Curry of Golden State is not his rival. “We are not Magic and Bird or Duke and North Carolina.” I disagree. Curry is the back-to-back NBA MVP and scoring champion. He was a unanimous MVP choice last year, and he led the Warriors to a title two years ago with a league record 73 wins last year.

Golden State has the best record in the West and Cleveland has the best record in the East. It’s the best rivalry the NBA has today, and it only plays out in the NBA Finals as it has the last two years.

The Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans agreed to an All-Star blockbuster trade. All-Star DeMarcus Cousins, averaging 28.0 per game, and Omari Casspi were dealt to New Orleans for Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, and the Pelicans’ 2017 first-round and second-round Draft picks.

This deal will have a direct effect on the 22-35 Timberwolves, who trail both New Orleans by two games and Sacreamento by one game with 25 games left. Denver currently has the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot. The Wolves are in the hunt, but losing Zach LaVine to ACL surgery was a big blow.

Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to info@larry-fitzgerald.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.