PORTLAND, ORE.: Kyrie Irving isn’t expected to be mentioned tonight when the All-Star starters are announced for both the Eastern and Western Conferences, but he still stands a decent chance of being named next week as a reserve.
In fact, the only thing holding him back might be the Cavs’ woeful record, which was 9-31 entering the game Wednesday at Portland.
Irving leads all Eastern Conference point guards in scoring and is fourth in field-goal percentage, although he hasn’t played in enough games to qualify among the league leaders.
Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics and Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat are expected to be named starters. Irving was fourth among guards in voting when the most recent numbers were released two weeks ago, but he trailed the two leaders by more than 350,000 votes.
Irving won the MVP award of the Rising Stars game during All-Star weekend last year, and Irving made it clear then he wanted to return this season to play in the real game.
“I’ve just been trying to play like an All-Star this whole entire season, trying to keep that mindset,” Irving said Wednesday. “Whatever happens happens. Anything could happen in the next month, so I’m just going to continue to play the way I’ve been playing and try to get my team wins.”
Irving doesn’t have much competition. Deron Williams has been much better since P.J. Carlesimo took over with the Brooklyn Nets, but he still has struggled for much of the season and conceded the other day that he isn’t worthy of playing in the All-Star Game despite ranking third in voting. And with Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls still sidelined with a knee injury, Irving’s best competition might come from Jrue Holiday of the Philadelphia 76ers or Brandon Jennings of the Milwaukee Bucks.
Still, there is a matter of the Cavs’ record, which left coach Byron Scott with a surprisingly lukewarm endorsement for Irving.
“I don’t know if I think he should make it. It’s all predicated on how your team is doing as well,” Scott said. “If you’re playing great, if your team is playing pretty good, then you have a better chance. Obviously, record-wise, we’re not there. So I think that’s a reflection on the players as well.
“The chances of him making it? Probably 40/60.”
Reserves for the All-Star team will be announced Jan. 24.
J.J. Hickson is enjoying a career rebirth with the Portland Trail Blazers. After a miserable season last year in Sacramento, which ended with his release, Hickson has grown up a little and is playing some of the best basketball of his career.
He had nine consecutive double-doubles during the month of December, one shy of Anderson Varejao’s impressive streak around the same time. Hickson is fifth in rebounding (11.0), fourth in double-doubles (21) and sixth in offensive rebounds (145).
The Cavs traded Hickson to the Sacramento Kings the day before the lockout began in 2011 for Omri Casspi and a protected first-round pick. Scott always thought Hickson had the ability to play like this, but thought it would take him some time to grow up and mature.
“I think he’s found his niche,” Scott said. “I just thought it was going to take him some years to understand what he has to do and what type of player he needs to be.”
Hickson began Wednesday averaging 12.2 points and 11.0 rebounds. He was not available in the Blazers’ locker room before the game.
“I thought he had it in him talent-wise, it’s just a matter of getting the head to catch up,” Scott said. “He’s still athletic where he can run the floor, he just didn’t have to score and that’s what he thought he needed to do. When he was with us, he thought he had to score. He can still get 15-18 points just by playing his role. I think he’s really finally come to grips with this is the type of role he has to play.”
Gilbert buys Greektown
Cavs owner Dan Gilbert purchased majority interest in the Greektown Casino in downtown Detroit. The acquisition, subject to Michigan Gaming Control Board approval, is expected to provide one of Gilbert’s affiliated companies (Athens Acquisition) with majority voting control of the casino, hotel and related assets.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.