Box score does little for Duncan’s All-Star hopes

All-Star 2011Tim Duncan’s streak of 11 straight All-Star game starts appears to have come to an end.

Tomorrow we’ll find out if Duncan will make the All-Star team at all.

Duncan has made the All-Star team every year since he entered the league, aside from the lockout-shortened season in 98-99.

There’s been a lot of debate about whether or not Duncan deserves a spot amongst the stars in Los Angeles in just over two weeks.

Duncan’s 13.6 points and 9.6 rebounds per game are seen as pedestrian by many around the league, but he’s also averaging a career low 29.3 minutes per game.

At the same time, teammates Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker are also at risk of not making the Western Conference squad and both average more points per game than Duncan.

But would a 40-8 record be at all possible without Duncan patrolling the paint.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich doesn’t seem to think so, according to a recent article by Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press.

“We wouldn’t be in the position we’re in, record-wise, if Timmy wasn’t out there doing what he does night after night, and his consistency,” Popovich said. “So when I look across the board, I would hope he makes the All-Star team.”

Unfortunately, Pop, who will coach the Western Conference All-Stars, was not able to vote for Duncan as a reserve since coaches are not able to vote for their own players.

Duncan, however, doesn’t seem to mind taking some vacation time in February for the first time in his career.

“I think there’s a lot of guys playing well that deserve to be (All-Stars) a lot better than I am,” Duncan told Chris Tomasson of Fanhouse. “I’m definitely not counting (on an All-Star selection).”

Charles Barkley, who didn’t list Duncan among his choices for Western Conference reserves agrees.

“This isn’t a lifetime achievement award,” Barkley said. “The award should go to guys who are having the best first half of the season.”

Jeff Garcia and I got a chance to talk to Luis Scola and Jordan Hill of the Houston Rockets before they tipped off against the Spurs on Saturday to ask their opinion on the topic.

“I’m such a big fan of Tim Duncan. I’ll never say he is playing worse or declining in his career,” Scola said. “I just think he is just dangerous and he’s just a great player. He’s maybe not getting the same numbers as before but I think he still has the ability to do it if he wants to.”

Tim DuncanIn the Spurs high-octane offense, the ball has definitely been in Ginobili’s and Parker’s hands more whereas the ball went through Duncan when the Spurs played more of a half-court offense.

Hill said he was surprised when he heard about Duncan not getting the start.

“That’s a big surprise, but I think father time’s catching up with him.”

“His body’s wearing out, but he’s still trying to fight it,” Hill said. “He’s still one of the best bigs in the league and definitely one of the best bigs of all time. He’s been an All-Star a lot of times so one time won’t hurt.”

If father time is catching up, that might be a surprise to Knicks center Amar’e Stoudamire.

Stoudamire had to watch as Duncan put on a display, finishing the game with 21 points, 16 rebounds, eight assists and five blocked shots in 35 minutes.

Duncan’s done the same against some of the better centers in the league. Aside from Stoudamire, Nene, Kevin Love, Emeka Okafor and Mehmet Okur have all caught Duncan on nights when he’s played more than 30 minutes and his line has been very similar to the one he put up against the Knicks.

But Barkley may be right about a spot amongst the reserves going to someone who has played well through the first half of the season.

After all, Duncan cares more about the postseason anyway, and a fifth championship ring is the only hardware he really needs.

About Michael A. De Leon

Michael founded Project Spurs in 2004. He started The Spurscast, the first Spurs podcast on the Internet, in 2005. Michael has been interviewed by the BBC, SportTalk, the Sports Reporters Radio Show, MemphisSportLive, OKC Sports Wrap and ESPN radio among others. He is a credentialed member of the media for the San Antonio Spurs and Austin Toros. He is also the founder of Project Spurs' sister sites, Toros Nation and Stars Hoops.

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