James Harden (275792)
Credit: Contributed

Sunday’s high scoring NBA All-Star Game, won by Team LeBron 178-164 and led by game MVP Kevin Durant (31 points / 7 rebounds) in a come from behind victory in the second half after being down by 20-points is an indication of one thing. The dominance and explosive scoring of the Western Conference hasn’t changed. What has changed is personnel, headline grabbing moves.

Since the beginning of the 2018-19 NBA season, with LeBron James signing with the Los Angeles Lakers, former all-star Carmelo Anthony has been added then dropped by the Houston Rockets, Tom Thibadeau was fired from his president of basketball operations and head coaching position with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Kristof Porzingus, the New York Knicks’ 2015 first-round draft pick was traded to the Dallas Mavericks, and Anthony Davis’ attempt to depart the New Orleans Pelicans before last Thursday’s trade deadline was thwarted.

The 8-seeded playoff teams from last season has also slightly changed. The defending champions, the Golden State Warriors, sit at the top of the conference. Both the Timbs and Pelicans have descended, dropped out of the best 8 replaced by the Denver Nuggets, now a 2-seed and the L.A. Clippers, now an 8th seed.

They were 9th and 10-seeds last year.

A much improved Sacramento Kings team is now at the ninth spot waiting to climb up with the Lakers, who’ve been decimated this season by

injuries at the 10-spot.

James Harden of the Rockets and OKC’s Russell Westbrook, all-star team participants, have been breaking and setting records. Harden is looking to extend his 30-plus points per game streak now at 31 straight while Westbrook goes for his eleventh straight triple double when the final segment of the season resumes tonight (Feb. 21).

“You know you are not going to stop a guy like that—fully stop him,” said Ryan Saunders, the Timbs head coach about Harden after he dropped 42 on Minnesota, their last game before the All-Star break. “It would be great if you could. Playing without fouling is the big thing.”