By Sam Rubenstein

The countdown to All-Star Weekend in Vegas has begun. Four days from now I will be on a plane with Lang, Khalid, and Ben. I don’t really know what Jay-Z is talking about in those Budweiser ads when he says “expect everything.” But that’s my approach to the weekend. I have no idea what’s going to happen, and nothing would surprise me. One of us could get arrested, lose his fortune gambling, have to talk his way out of being dumped into a hole in the desert, win hundreds of thousands at a casino, go to every club on David Stern’s “thou shalt not attend” list, destroy hotel rooms, make new and talented friends… my imagination is running wild. Still, I don’t want to force it by promising too much or trying too hard to go wild, because as we just observed, when you create too much hype for yourself, it can come back to bite you. Right Gilbert?

PORTLAND 94 WASHINGTON 73
I don’t want to sound like a grumpy old man here, but Gilbert crossed the line from being an exuberant, happy-go-lucky, fun first, loveably ECCENTRIC, fan friendly accesible star to disrespecting the game. Never cross the basketball Gods or they will smite thee with their vengance. Look no further than Tyrus Thomas. Gil ranted and raved about how this stop on his revenge tour needed to be moved into the ABC showcase spot as he lit up Team USA assistant coach Nate McMillan’s squad for 50. Instead Gil had as embarrasing an afternoon as someone like him can ever have. Not only did he shoot blanks, finishing with 9 points on 3 of 15 shooting and 0 for 8 from three, but after the game it was his own coach, Eddie Jordan, who called his star player out for not being a capable leader. Eddie basically said that just because he’s your best player does not make him a leader. Right now, Gilbert is just another flashy high scoring, disposable fun personality. There are hundreds of those in NBA history, and they come and go, are fun for a while but ultimately end up unfulfilled. Maybe Gilbert is okay with that. Only one team gets to win the championship every year, and maybe some guys don’t care as long as they’re having fun with their celebrity. For all of LeBron’s leboringness, he does live with the constant pressure that if he doesn’t win a ring (or 3) his career will be viewed as a failure to meet expectations, while Gilbert is a fun personality who could be a Hall of Fame gunner or fade away into Mike Tyson’s Bolivian as a fun memory but with no larger meaning. I haven’t mentioned the Blazers yet, because Gilbert Arenas got his wish. He wanted to be bigger than the game, and now he is. LaMarcus Aldridge had 18 and 10 in the win.

CLEVELAND 99 LA LAKERS 90
This was the national audience Sunday afternoon showtime game. Kobe took over in the second half and tried to win it for the Lakers down the stretch, while LeBron let Sasha do his thing. Kobe won the individual match-up, but LeBron won the game. Combine that with Bron beating Wade’s team easily on Friday night, and it looks like the Cavs started listening to those of us begging them to play harder. Sasha finished with 21, while Kobe’s 36-7-6 wasn’t enough.

MINNESOTA 109 BOSTON 107
Ah… the Celtics. They were winning with about a minute left. Ex-Celtic Ricky Davis broke the tie with the game winner that went through the net with 0.2 on the clock. Even with Paul Pierce back, they can’t win. KG had a triple double with 26, 11, and 10 while Ricky led the TWolves with 28. That is 18 straight losses.

CHICAGO 116 PHOENIX 103
Steve Nash is gaining MVP votes by missing games, again. The Suns were putting together an amazing run until he hurt his shoulder and now they’re a much more regular team. Barbosa is one of the better young guards in the league, but he’s no Steve Nash. Diaw missed the game too, as the Suns were held to 40% shooting and a lowly (for them) 103 points. The Bulls got huge games out of Hinrich, Gordon, and Deng, each scoring 27 or more. Tyrus Thomas made his first start since rolling his ankle. He’s healthy… he better be in that dunk contest if he wants his money.

ATLANTA 106 GOLDEN STATE 105
Coming of a win at Phoenix (!!!) Friday night, the Hawks are now on a 5 game road winning streak. This season is really strange. Atlanta nearly gave away the game late, but ex-Hawk Stephen “Whooo” Jackson missed what could gave been the game winning jumper. The Hawks survived, led by Josh Smith’s 29 and 10. What’s next, sell-out crowds at home? Matt Barnes had 17 and 12 off the bench for the Warriors.
MIAMI 100 SAN ANTONIO 85
The Spurs are good, but they just seem tired. They rarely play four Spur-like quarters and Dwyane Wade took advantage of their weak fourth with 18 of his 26 points, hitting 7 of 10 shots in the quarter. After the game he questioned Tim Duncan’s leadership and warned that the Spurs championships don’t mean anything cause they never had to go through him. “I’m DWade. I’m hot!” Okay, that’s all a lie. Duncan needs the All-Star break to rest up. Manu came off the bench to give his team a spark, but it wasn’t nearly enough. Shaq was able to sit out the final 15 minutes of the game. Ron Rothstein has his team heading towards the top of the East. I hope people appreciate how he turned their season around when Riley snakes his way back to the team. Okay, it’s really all about getting guys back from injury and the play of Wade.

INDIANA 94 LA CLIPPERS 80
What does it take to motivate L’il Dun? Revenge against his daddy. What a sick little Dun. 20 points on 9 of 12 shooting and Jamaal Tinsley handed out 15 assists. Cat Mobley led the Clippers with 23. Doug Christie received another 10 day contract. The dream is still alive.

DALLAS 106 PHILLY 89
The Mavs have a seven game winning streak. Another one? These guys do not lose. Philly, thanks for showing up. Dirk had 24, 11, and 7. Iguodala led the Sixers with 21. Not a fair fight. The Mavs scored 38 in the second quarter and relaxed the rest of the day.

SEATTLE 114 SACRAMENTO 103
Ray Allen and Chris Wilcox had 25 each, Ron Ron had 21 and 12… can you believe these two teams met in the playoffs only two years ago? The Kings made a run, Ray Allen hit a big three, good night.