Phoenix Suns point guard Goran Dragic blew the doors off the Indiana Pacers in the first half of the Suns' impressive 102-94 victory in Indiana on Thursday night, seemingly intent on proving he should have been selected to the Western Conference All-Star Team.
Dragic had 21 points and five assists as the Suns built a 66-49 halftime lead, but he actually didn't know he had been passed over as an All-Star, according to Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. Dragic found out about the snub at halftime, which left him disappointed and a locker-room chair the victim of a solid whack:
"I didn't want to know," Dragic said. "I was a little bit sad, emotional, because I really wanted that. You've got hope, and you know that you deserve it. I know it was a tough selection with so many great players in the West, but it still hits you."
Dragic finished the game with 28 points and seven assists despite a sore left elbow. The 27-year-old has been brilliant for the surprising Suns all season, and he has stepped his game up even more in the wake of the Eric Bledsoe injury. But apparently his season hasn't been good enough to warrant selection over San Antonio Spurs star Tony Parker.
In the visiting locker room, Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson also dealt with being snubbed. Stephenson did find out he hadn't made the Eastern Conference All-Star Team before facing the Suns, and although he tried to downplay it after the game, he too played like a guy with something to prove.
Stephenson notched his fourth triple-double of the season, finishing with 14 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. But after the loss, the young guard wanted to focus on team accomplishments, according to Mark Montieth of Pacers.com:
"It's just an All-Star game," he said. "I just want to win games and win a championship.
"This doesn't make me any madder. I try to bring aggressiveness to every game. I work hard. I'm going to keep working hard."
Stephenson got plenty of support from teammates, including Roy Hibbert, who was selected as an Eastern Conference All-Star reserve. David West also had a choice word for coaches who didn't vote for Stephenson.
Plenty of arguments can be made that Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry should have been selected as an All-Star. Lowry is arguably having a better season than teammate DeMar DeRozan, who did make the East squad. Lowry is certainly having a better year than Brooklyn Nets wing Joe Johnson.
Lowry was the leading vote-getter among the non-selected Eastern Conference players, but he didn't seem too bothered by the snub, according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN 1050:
"I'm alright," said Lowry, averaging career-highs in points (16.8), assists (7.6) and three-point shooting (41 per cent) this season. "I'll be on a beach somewhere hanging out. I'll watch the All-Star game and cheer for (DeRozan)."
"I'm going to keep grinding no matter what, All-Star or not," Lowry said. "I'm always going to work hard and continue to be the best player I can be to help my team win."
"Honestly I didn't even worry about it," he continued. "We didn't get two, doesn't matter, we got one and that's a big statement for our team. [DeRozan's] going to represent our team and he's going to represent us well."
While going to the All-Star Game would be great, hanging out on the beach isn't too shabby either.
More on the All-Star Game
More on the All-Star Game
Afflalo was in an interesting situation. The Orlando Magic guard is having a career season, averaging 20.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists. But his Magic are near the bottom of the league, which likely played a factor in the voting.
When All-Star selections come around next year, Afflalo is determined to make his case a stronger one, according to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:
"I respect the coaches' opinions," Afflalo told the Orlando Sentinel a few minutes after the reserves were named. "I'm sure every guy up there in some shape or form deserves to be there. So, I would never criticize the process.
"What I will say, though, is that next time around, I intend for there to be no debate about where I belong at my position and in the league for that matter. I'll definitely put the necessary work in to make sure that happens."
If Afflalo improves upon his numbers from this season and his team has a better record, it certainly would be much harder to keep him out next year.
The two players with the best statistics to not make it. Cousins was on a flight during the announcement and wasn't available for comment, but he did congratulate former Kentucky teammate John Wall on his selection:
Congrats to my brother J wall on making All Star well deserved bro!— demarcus cousins (@boogiecousins) January 31, 2014
Davis also hasn't been reached for comment, but he did retweet a few supporters who said he should have been chosen.