LOS ANGELES — The 60th annual NBA All-Star Game on Sunday night proved to be a miniature replica of Deron Williams' sixth professional season.
The Utah Jazz's sole representative demonstrated why he ranks third in assists per game by finishing with seven in the West's 148-143 victory over the East at Staples Center.
Yet Williams, who has experienced offensive problems since spraining his wrist, made just two of seven shots in finishing with five points in 18 minutes of play.
Moreover, nearly two weeks after being blamed for head coach Jerry Sloan's abrupt resignation, Williams is the subject of more rumors.
Ken Berger of CBS Sports, citing an unnamed source, wrote that Williams would join A'mare Stoudemire on the New York Knickerbockers when he becomes a free-agent after next season.
Another unnamed source ostensibly close to the all-star guard called the report "crazy."
"I've never heard of Ken Berger in my life," Williams said forcefully when asked about the rumor. "I've had a hamburger."
"I've been called that," Berger replied upon entering the conversation.
"So you're Ken Berger," Williams said. "Who did you hear it from?"
"I can't say," Berger replied.
"Exactly, so it's not credible," Williams said. "When it comes from my mouth, when you hear me say, 'I want to go to New York,' then you believe it."
Williams' performance contrasted with his first All-Star appearance last year in Dallas, where he accumulated 14 points and six assists in 28 minutes.
"Last year was my first one and it was in my hometown, so it was a little more special," Williams said. "But I think every one is special. It's such an honor to be chosen by the coaches and be among the best players in the world."
But Williams created some special moments this year, including three noteworthy assists.
In the first quarter, he sent a no-look pass from near the top of the lane to Pau Gasol, who turned it into a slam dunk that gave the West a 25-15 lead.
Later in the period, Williams lofted a left-handed alley-oop pass that Blake Griffin pounded into the net with both hands.
Then in the third quarter, Williams dribbled along the left baseline and passed to Chris Paul for a 3-point shot.
In his most impressive offensive move, Williams drove three-quarters of the court for a lay-in that extended the West's advantage to 113-98.
But for Williams, the All-Star Weekend provided more than an opportunity to show off.29 comments on this story
"It's definitely good to get away from the grind of the season, the same routine day in and day out, and have a little fun," Williams said. "I played golf one day, went out with my kids and stayed at my house in San Diego."
With the All-Star Weekend completed, Williams hopes his rested teammates will recover from a five-week slump that dropped the Jazz into a tie with Memphis for eighth place, the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
"We put ourselves in a bad position," Williams said. "We have a lot of work to do if we want to make the playoffs. But it's definitely easy to do if we play the right way and get back to having fun."