SALT LAKE CITY — Al Jefferson prepared himself to not be disappointed if he didn’t get an elusive All-Star invitation this year.
Paul Millsap wasn’t expecting the Utah Jazz to get one, either.
With that in mind, neither player should’ve been surprised or bummed to hear the All-Star announcement, which, as they figured, didn’t include anybody from the Beehive state’s basketball team.
Instead, NBA coaches voted big men Tim Duncan, Zach Randolph, LaMarcus Aldridge and David Lee along with guards Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook and James Harden to be Western Conference reserves.
The West’s starters include Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin and Dwight Howard.
“I don’t think we played our best basketball all year — nobody on this team really,” Millsap said when talking about not anticipating a Jazz player to be named an All-Star at Thursday morning’s practice.
“We’ve had spurts, but being consistent, being one of them guys, I don’t think we were like that throughout the whole year. We’re just now catching our stride, getting better. We’re not worried about that.”
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin, on the other hand, felt like his players were perhaps being snubbed if they weren’t considered as All-Stars.
“It’s disappointing. I think if you look at the work that Al and even Paul and some ways Gordon (Hayward) at times, they should be considered,” Corbin said. “We’ve grown as a team. Their numbers mean something to how we have a chance to be successful or not. I think you can compare them to the other guys at their position or their spots. They should be considered.”
Corbin also thought the Jazz’s improved play and 23-19 record should be factored in.
“Absolutely,” he said. “I think that should help also.”
Jefferson said he learned to not get his hopes up for an All-Star nod in his first two seasons in Minnesota when he averaged at least 21 points and 11 rebounds.
"I used to be excited about it. My first and second year in Minnesota, I got disappointed. To keep me from being disappointed, I don't think about it,” Jefferson said.
"If it happens, I'm thankful," Jefferson said. "If it don't, I'll get some rest. That's the way I look at it."
Jefferson is Utah’s leading scorer (17.1 ppg) and top rebounder (9.8 rpg), while Millsap is second in those stat categories with averages of 14.8 ppg and 7.8 rpg.
The Eastern All-Star starters: Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Garnett.
East reserves: Luol Deng, Paul George, Joakim Noah, Kyrie Irving, Jrue Holiday, Tyson Chandler and Chris Bosh.
WEEKEND PARTICIPANTS?: The Jazz still have a chance to get some guys involved in the All-Star festivities from Feb. 15-17 in Houston.
Jeremy Evans is the reigning NBA Dunk Champion, of course. Though he’s intrigued about the possibility, the seldom-used forward, however, has not heard from the league, so he isn't sure if he’ll be given a chance to defend his dunking crown.
Randy Foye is sixth in the NBA in 3-point percentage (.440), so he’s a possibility in that contest. Jazz backup center Enes Kanter (6.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg) could be invited to participate in the Rookie-Sophomore Challenge as well.
WEATHER WOES: Coach Corbin gave up trying to drive on I-15 after going “really, really, really slow” during Thursday’s freezing rain. “15 was just parked,” he said.
Millsap called his morning commute to the practice facility “tough.”
“It was like ice was falling from the sky. It was on my windshield sticking,” he said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”
WHAT POLLLUTION?: Jefferson said he wasn’t sure if the nasty inversion has affected his health. For one thing, Big Al said he’s felt fine. Another thing?
“I didn’t even know what pollution was until yesterday, so I don’t know to be honest with you,” he said, smiling. “I think I’m good. I should’ve went to college.”
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