By BRIAN MAHONEY
AP Basketball Writer
Once the All-Star rosters had been named, Scott Brooks could get to work.
Brooks, who will coach the Western Conference, wasn’t worried about diagramming any plays. The work awaiting him was figuring out which guys he needed to start being nice to, so they wouldn’t be mad at him about their minutes.
But having coached in the All-Star game two years ago, the Oklahoma City coach realizes there’s only one way to make everyone happy.
“A triple-overtime game,” he said.
Indiana’s Frank Vogel will lead the East in his All-Star coaching debut and will quickly learn what all the veterans already know.
“That’s the toughest job really, is the minutes, because you don’t do a whole lot of intense coaching,” said San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich, who coached the West last year.
Popovich said he asked certain players with injuries how much they wanted to play, and some make it clear it’s not many.
“I just wanted to break a sweat, because my obligation was to my team, whether it was Philadelphia or Phoenix, because I’ve always worried about what if a guy had a serious injury and it screwed up their championship hopes,” Hall of Famer and TNT analyst Charles Barkley said. “So for me, I just wanted to salute the fans, play about 10, 15 minutes.”
That’s tougher for younger players, who are eager to show off when they finally get their chance on the big stage. But for veterans who already try to monitor minutes during the regular season, such as Dwyane Wade and Tony Parker, the All-Star game isn’t a time to overdo it.
That will make their coaches’ jobs easier, and make them friends with newcomers such as John Wall and DeMar DeRozan.
“Whenever you’ve got first-timers on the All-Star team, you can always be like, ‘Go ahead young fella, go out there and do your job. Go out there and play,” Wade said.
Here are 5 things to watch during a short week before the All-Star break:
BACK TO THE BAYOU: The NBA had an entertaining All-Star weekend in 2008, when LeBron James was the game’s MVP and Dwight Howard donned a Superman cape to win the slam dunk contest. The league is jazzing up All-Star Saturday night for this trip to New Orleans in hopes of another good one.
LAST CALL FOR THE FIRST HALF: The league’s dominant scorer plays in the last game of the unofficial first half of the season, with Kevin Durant leading Oklahoma City into Los Angeles to face the Lakers on Thursday night.
WOODSON WATCH: Every Knicks game now comes with further speculation that it may be Mike Woodson’s last as coach. New York plays just once this week, hosting Sacramento on Wednesday.
THEY’LL DESERVE A BREAK: The Portland Trail Blazers play only twice this week, but that might feel like enough, given that it’s a back-to-back Tuesday and Wednesday against Oklahoma City and the Clippers, two of the three division leaders in the powerful West.
CAV-TASTROPHE: One of the many lowlights in Cleveland’s horrendous first half was a 124-80 loss at Sacramento, the second biggest blowout in the NBA this season. The Cavaliers can avenge that when they host the Kings on Tuesday.
STAT LINE OF THE WEEK: Patty Mills, Spurs, 10 of 13 from the field, 4 of 5 on 3-pointers, 8 of 9 from the free throw line, season-high 32 points Saturday in a 104-100 victory over Charlotte. With Tony Parker battling back problems, there would be more minutes available for the Australian point guard as the Spurs continue their rodeo road trip.