Team LeBron celebrate after winning during the NBA All-Star Game as a part of 2018 NBA All-Star Weekend at STAPLES Center on February 18, 2018 in Los Angeles, California (Monday morning in Manila).
It was a game-changing move as the 67th edition of the NBA All-Star Game reformed the traditional Eastern-Western format they have been using. This year’s All-Star Game allowed the players in respective conferences with the highest public votes, LeBron James from the East and Stephen Curry from the West, to be the team leaders and get to choose their own rosters.
The All-Star draft led to interesting dynamics on court. Curry chose his Golden State teammates Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, but the trio had to play against Durant. James also chose Oklahoma City duo Westbrook and Paul George to play along with Kyrie Irving, who forced a trade away from James in Cleveland just last summer.
The draft went smooth on court. Irving and James could even be seen laughing and joking on the bench. Neither did Durant and Westbrook had no friction who broke up in 2016 when Durant left Oklahoma City for Golden State.
However, it was a heated match during the last minutes of the game. With 1:30 remaining on the clock, the game was tied at 144. LeBron hurdled with a layup off a feed from Kyrie Irving securing his team in a safe position at 146-145 with 34.5 seconds left on the clock.
Team Stephen had one last chance, but even the usually unguardable Curry couldn’t find enough space to launch a 3 between his fellow captain and Durant, his Golden State teammate. Curry finished with 11 points on 4-for-14 shooting.
On the final possession, James and Kevin Durant teemed Curry, locking him up and preventing the 3-point-shooting superstar from getting off a potential tying shot, making Team LeBron win on a defense.
Needless to say, the approach was a success. All throughout the game, the defensive intensity was noticeably higher. The final minutes of the fourth quarter almost could have been mistaken for a heated playoff matchup.
LeBron James is Kia’s All-Star Game MVP
Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James made a huge impact both on scoring off the paint and on defense being involved in three of the most important plays of the final minutes.
His signature step-back 3-pointer tied the game at 144 with 1:30 left to play. Then, with 34 seconds remaining, he made the basket that put Team LeBron up for good — the result of a brilliant game of hot potato that started with Russell Westbrook and ended with a classic hit the go-ahead layup from Kyrie Irving.
“I think myself and Stephen took it upon ourselves when we took on this format that we had to change the way this game was played,” said James.
LeBron was on his way to a triple-double with 29 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists and was the clear choice to win his third All-Star MVP Award. Dwane Casey, Team LeBrons’s coach was convinced that LeBron’s trudge to the trophy has begun long before tipoff.
“It’s something that we talked about yesterday in practice about how we wanted to change the narrative of the approach and the description of the All-Star Game,” Casey said after the game. “I thought tonight was a great one. My hat’s off to LeBron and all the guys that stepped up, and they reiterated exactly what we talked about after we said, hey, let’s change the narrative. Let’s make sure we change how people look at the NBA All-Star Game.”
Team LeBron carried it to victory in a 148-145 win for over Team Stephen on Sunday in the first playground-pick-em-style NBA All-Star Game.
Other Highlights of the NBA All-Star Weekend
Phoenix Suns’ Devin Booker put together a record-setting performance in the final round with 28 points, which is good enough for an all-time high Saturday morning in Manila. The Suns guard hit 20 of his 30 shots defeating former champ Klay Thompson, who was the runner-up with 25 points.
Brooklyn’s Spencer Dinwiddie captured the Taco Bell’s Skills Challenge knocking off Lauri Markkanen during the All-Star Skills Challenge Saturday evening in Los Angeles (Sunday Morning in Manila). Dinwiddie’s chest pass in his first attempt secured him a win after Markkanen spoiled his first try to draw alongside.
Dinwiddie is the first guard to win the skills competition in three years following Karl Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis who have won the past two editions of the contest.
Slam Dunk Contest
Utah’s rookie Donovan Mitchell took on the hard way and was crowned champ during the Slam Dunk Contest in the NBA All-Star weekend Sunday morning in Manila. Mitchell’s Vince Carter tribute with Carter’s memorable 360-windmill dunk from the 2000 NBA Slam Dunk Contest edged down Larry Nance Jr. who came in second.
The other participants were Indiana’s Victor Oladipo and Dallas’ Dennis Smith Jr.