LeBron James and Kyrie Irving back together for a night, after both left Cleveland, worked out just fine in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte.
Irving drove the lane in transition, and hit James with a no-look pass for an uncontested dunk and a late 10-point lead. That completed a Team LeBron comeback from as much as 20 points down for a 178-164 victory over Team Giannis at Spectrum Center.
Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant won Most Valuable Player with a 31-point, seven-rebound performance for Team LeBron. Los Angeles Laker James, top vote-getter from Western Conference, finished with 19 points and eight rebounds. Irving, who now plays for the Boston Celtics, added 13 points, nine rebounds and six assists.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Herald Sun
Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, the leading vote-getter in the Eastern Conference for selection into this event, had 38 points and 11 rebounds.
Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker, making his first All-Star start and third appearance, finished with a game-high eight assists, but only four points off 2-of-8 shooting.
It got serious with about nine minutes left in the fourth quarter, when Klay Thompson fouled Golden State Warriors teammate Stephen Curry outside the 3-point line. Curry made the shot before Thompson’s foul knocked him down and Curry hit the foul shot for the four-point play.
Thompson played for Team LeBron and Curry for Team Giannis in the pickup-game format. When shooters are fouled, particularly one teammate fouling another, you know it must be the fourth quarter and you know it must be close.
Curry, who grew up in Charlotte and starred for Davidson before being drafted by the Warriors, had 17 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
This was the All-Star Game’s second visit to Charlotte, after the 1991 game was held at Charlotte Coliseum.
Three who mattered
Antetokounmpo: Making 10 of 12 shots from the field in a half is remarkable even in an All-Star setting where defense isn’t really played.
Durant: He made six of his first 11 shots in a game that particularly plays to his inside/outside versatility.
Lillard: He led the Team LeBron comeback with nine third-quarter points to take back the lead.
▪ The idea to add future Hall-of-Famers Dirk Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade to the All-Star squads actuallly came from a fan in an email to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. From the ovation Nowitzki and Wade got when they entered the game late in the first quarter, the crowd certainly approved.
▪ First-half play of the game: Curry slaps down a bounce pass hard enough it rose above the rim to set up Antetokounmpo’s dunk in the second quarter.
▪ Walker said he didn’t intend to do anything out of the ordinary to chase the MVP trophy in the first half, he was mostly a passer, with a game-high seven assists. He made only one of his six first-half shots.
▪ You know how coaching staffs always huddle up at the start of timeouts before talking to the players? The coaches still do that in this All-Star Game. What do they discuss? Flight itineraries to the Caribbean Monday?
▪ Cool third-quarter moment in the third quarter when Wade got to feed former teammate James for an alley-oop in what figures to be the former Miami Heat teammates’ last game on the same side.
▪ Charlotte’s Anthony Hamilton sang the Star-Spangled Banner, and it was exceptional.
▪ The Hornets’ physical trainers, led by director of healthcare and sports performance Joe Sharpe, served as medical staff
▪ Founding Charlotte Bobcats owner Bob Johnson was at Sunday’s game.
They said it
“Good to see Steph knock down that shot because Klay is always talking trash to him.” – Durant on the competition between Curry and Thompson.
“I had my name on that MVP until the third quarter, and then they took it away from me!” – Antetokounmpo on his 20-point first half.
“I was just throwing for guys, and they were getting dunks....Whenever I saw the open guy, getting rid of the basketball.” – Walker on his high-assist, low-point All-Star Game.