Giannis Antetokounmpo delivered on his promise that the All-Star game was over. The NBA MVP top scored with 35 points as Team LeBron ran out the 170-150 winners over Team Durant in the 2021 NBA All-Star Game this weekend.
#TeamLeBron WINS the 2021 #NBAAllStar Game! They earn a total of $1.25 million for TMCF, while #TeamDurant earns $500,000 for UNCF.
Giannis: 2021 NBA All-Star Game Kobe Bryant MVP Award winner (35 PTS, 16-16 shooting) #KiaAllStarMVP pic.twitter.com/aAK8o21OPw
— NBA (@NBA) March 8, 2021
In what was a high-scoring affair, with just one point between the two teams in three of the four quarters, however it was a dominant second quarter from Team LeBron, where they outscored Team Durant by 60 points to 41, that was the foundation of their success.
Damian Lillard contributed 32 points, with Steph Curry hitting 28 and Jaylen Brown 22 for Team LeBron, for whom Chris Paul contributed 16 assists. LeBron only played himself for 13 minutes, scoring four points, but also contributing two rebounds and four assists.
Bradley Beal was the top scorer for Team Durant with 26 points, two ahead of Kyrie Irving with Jayson Tatum and James Harding also contributing 21 points apiece. Irving also led assists with a dozen while Kawhi Leonard landed nine rebounds.
Late Withdrawals Prior To Game
Two players, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers were unable to play due to virus protocols after they were confirmed to have been in contact with an individual that had subsequently tested positive.
The news on Embiid and Simmons absence broke late, at a time when some players were conducting interviews with the media.
A couple of players, such as Bradley Beal, James Harden and Paul George all expressed their reservations about staging the game, with Beal pointedly stating:
“I don’t want to say we didn’t have a choice, but it’s in our C.B.A and our C.B.A says there has to be an All-Star Game every year.”
Embiid and Simmons were tested on Sunday before returning to Philadelphia on separate private planes. Both tests showed negative results.
Neither team called up a replacement for the absent Embiid and Simmons, with the traditional 12-man rosters reduced to 11 per team for the game.
Record-Breaking Performances During The Game
Giannis delivered on his assertion that the game was over not just with his 35 points, but in how he landed them. He was perfect on shooting, hitting 16 out of 16 shots in the game, a new All-Star game record for most attempts without a single miss.
???? Giannis Antetokounmpo wins the 2021 NBA All-Star Game Kobe Bryant MVP Award! #[email protected]_An34: 35 PTS on 16-16 shooting (#NBAAllStar record for most makes without a miss over an entire game) pic.twitter.com/HuNsuTtp3P
— NBA (@NBA) March 8, 2021
Damian Lillard too had the watching millions enthralled when he landed a shot from midcourt with the final play of the game to take him to 32 points for Team LeBron.
Golden State Warriors ace Steph Curry won the three-point contest before the match for the second time in his career and then followed that up with 28 points in the game.
Indeed, it was the difference in three-point shooting accuracy that was the difference between the two teams, Team LeBron hit 31/61 attempts, while Team Durant only managed 27 out of 72.
The Skills contest was won by Domantas Sabonis of the Indiana Pacers, who defeated Orlando Magic’s Nikola Vucevic.
The half time Dunk contest was won by Portland’s Anfernee Simons, who just held off a strong challenge from the Knicks Obi Toppin.
Over $3 Million Donated. To Charitable Causes
The biggest winners on the evening though were the two historically Black colleges and universities, which are set to benefit to the tune of at least $3 million between them thanks to the efforts of the players and All-Star game organisers.
The NBA resumes on Thursday this week with two games as the Memphis Grizzlies face the Washington Wizards, followed a short time later by the in-form Dallas Mavericks, who have won their last three games and five of the last six, taking on the San Antonio Spurs.