~ (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
~ By Pearl Allison Lo
~ With the 2019 All-Star game hosted in Charlotte, North Carolina, Team LeBron overcame Team Giannis 178-164, which had Hornets ambassador Kemba Walker and Stephen Curry, who grew up in the city.
Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant received the MVP award for the second time. He finished with the second-highest point total in the game, scoring 31 points on 10-of-15 shooting with six threes on 6-of-9 shooting, 5-of-5 from the free throw line, seven rebounds, two assists, two turnovers, one steal and two blocks.
Team LeBron also won in 2018 in the inaugural All-Star format, beating Team Stephen narrowly, 148-145.
$350,000 was awarded to the screams of Right Moves for Youth, LeBron James’ charity and $150,000 to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina, Giannis Antetokounmpo’s charity.
Damian Lillard said the talk during halftime was, “They (Team Giannis) were scoring too easy…We had to make them work a bit more…we got better shots.”
Antetokounmpo led all with 38 points on 17-of-23 shooting, two threes, 2-of-2 on free throws, 11 rebounds, five assists, three turnovers and one steal.
In the first quarter, Team Giannis tied a record with 53 points as they shot 66% from the field led the man himself with 16 points, as he went 8-8 from the field, followed by Milwaukee Bucks’ teammate Khris Middleton with 12 points. Durant led Team LeBron with 10 points and honorary All-Star Dirk Nowitzki went perfect with two three’s. Team Giannis established their lead that they would hold onto for awhile with Joel Embiid’s layup with 7:16 left in the opening quarter.
In the second, Team LeBron’s honorary All-Star Dwayne Wade had his first three and shot as he pedaled back grinning.
On the third possession after, Nowitzki finished 3-for-3 in the first half as he had another three. James Harden was unable to duplicate on the other end. Nowitzki then went back to the bench referring to his threes, saying “That’s what I do.”
Karl Anthony-Towns had two dunks within a minute, the second one a heavy-handed jam as he raced down the lane. “We were down 15, now down 13, gotta do something…Lot of money on the line,” commented Towns later.
Paul George had a reverse 360 dunk and a highlight replayed often, was Curry with a high bounce pass to Antetokounmpo with the high dunk, followed by airplane arms and flying reactions from both players. “I’m not sure anyone else on the floor could have finished that one,” noted Curry.
After missing his first five shots, Curry’s first field goal was a three with 5:36 left in the second.
During halftime, Embiid did not think the score would run up to 200 points because he said “at the fourth quarter, they’re going to start playing more defense.”
Team LeBron nearly matched Team Giannis’s total from the first in the third with 50 points.
Walker stole the ball from Durant and scored to start the third. Wade made a dunk 14 seconds later.
George gave Team Giannis three-digit points with 10:44 left to make it 101-87.
Former teammates connected in-game with Wade putting the ball off the backboard for James.
The game reached its highest 20-point deficit when Antetokounmpo made it 109-89 with 9:30 to go in the third.
Durant got the 99th point and after Harden, Kyrie Irving and James all missed threes, finally got Team LeBron’s 100th point with a free throw.
Durant’s two free throws were part of a 33-13 run as things got more competitive. Bradley Beal, Lillard and Klay Thompson combined for seven threes. Westbrook was particularly active for Team Giannis when he was subbed in the game, making four of his seven attempts.
With 3:17 left, Thompson made a three and Lillard made the 124-124 downtown bucket before Kyle Lowry took back the lead, followed by Lillard hitting a three again. Lowry tried to follow suit but missed.
Team LeBron made it 132-131 with 39.2 seconds left in the third on Ben Simmons’ hook, finishing the third with the advantage.
Curry kicked off his fourth with 9:18 left when Golden State’s Thompson ran into Curry before he Curry knocked down a three. “If I could have one shot out of the 23 I took, it’d be that one,” laughed Curry. He missed seven shots the rest of the quarter, the majority of them threes.
Starting with 7:39 left, Team LeBron went 13-0 to run up the score before Giannis said “No” with a driving dunk shot with under five minutes left.
11 of Durant’s 19-point second half came in the fourth.
One of his Warriors teammates was not done yet though, as Curry capped off the night alley-ooping to himself for a reverse slam with four seconds remaining. It was foreshadowed a bit, as Curry did the same in pregame warmups.
Up Next: Curry finished with 17 points on 6-of-23 shootings, four threes on 4-of-17 threes, one free throw, nine rebounds, seven assists and two turnovers. Thompson finished with 20 points, on 7-of-16 shooting, six threes on 6-of-12 shooting, eight rebounds, four assists and one steal.
The next All-Star Game is Feb. 16, 2020, in Chicago. The players return from All-Star break Thursday with the first games at 4 pm and Golden State slated to play the Sacramento Kings at 7:30 pm.