Between finish breathless, historic performance and magical half-time ceremony, this 71st edition of the All-Star Game was (on the whole) a great success!
In Cleveland, it was finally Team LeBron who managed to win, on the wire (163-160), against Team Durant! In order to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the NBA with dignity…
And the 50 points (at 16/27 at 3-pts!!!) from the MVP of the evening, Stephen Curry, obviously have a lot to do with it. While LeBron James (24 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 steals) was responsible for giving the victory to his team, on the ultimate possession of the meeting, once again disputed under this refreshing format of “Elam Ending “.
Opposite, while Kevin Durant was unable to encourage his training in the room, due to the death of his grandmother, Joel Embiid (36 points, 10 rebounds) assumed his status as leader of Team “KD” .
But the Cameroonian, certainly unstoppable in the racket, had to lay down his arms in front of the killer side of the duo from Ohio, Curry / LeBron, perfectly supported by the ubiquitous Giannis Antetokounmpo (30 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 interceptions).
QT1: TEAM LEBRON 47v. 46 TEAM DURING
As often, the first minutes of this match allow the various players in the game to stretch their legs. No defender opposes the opposing attackers, the intensity is not there and the easy baskets are linked, as the open shots are attempted.
After his traditional “Chalk Toss”, LeBron James took the opportunity to start the meeting well, as did Giannis Antetokounmpo and Stephen Curry at his side, who took turns inside and behind the arc. Yet injured in the thumb, Chris Paul still decides to play a few minutes, without using his right hand.
Opposite, for Team Durant, where more than half of the newcomers are, Ja Morant and Trae Young put on a show on a superb “alley-oop”, while Rudy Gobert enters the game for his 3rd All-Star Game in his career and that he allows himself to score his first points, on an easy dunk…
QT2: TEAM LEBRON 46 v. 49 TEAM DURING
In the second act, the balance of power is reversed.
LaMelo Ball and Dejounte Murray brilliantly honor their first starry cap, lining up the baskets one after the other. Together, they offer themselves a superb highlight : an “alley-oop” from Murray, after a pass between Ball’s legs. Rudy Gobert is not outdone in terms of show either, because he simply slams a 360°! Much cleaner than the one he had signed during the last Olympic Games…
While Ja Morant and Trae Young still delight the public with a marvel of “alley-oop”, Team Durant clearly dominates the debates in this quarter. Only Stephen Curry (18 points, at 6/7 at 3-pts!) manages to keep Team LeBron in contact, while Darius Garland also delivers an attractive debut in this all-star game, far from exciting for the moment…
QT3: TEAM LEBRON 45 v. 45 TEAM DURING
But when he returned from the locker room, after a magnificent ceremony organized to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the NBA, Stephen Curry started again on a crazy, not to say inhuman basis, setting the entire Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on fire!
Indeed, at 3-pts, the Warriors leader is simply volcanic (21 points, 7/10!!!) and he accumulates award-winning successes with disconcerting ease. Allowing himself, full of insolence, to turn around several times before his shot even fell in!!!
The blow of heat (and that’s an understatement…) of the double MVP obliges, neither more nor less, Team Durant to defend more on him, but it absolutely does not slow down the pace. Nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen and downright fifteen: Stephen Curry explodes the 3-point record in an All-Star Game and, above all, he does better than Klay Thompson (14) in a single match (that’s not will however not count in the history books of the league)!!!
With all this, we would almost forget that Team LeBron is not leading in the score, but the “Chief” at least allowed his team not to find themselves off the scoreboard, in the company of Giannis Antetokounmpo, discreet but dominant. Because Team Durant continues to lead the race, quietly too, in the wake of its excellent leader, Joel Embiid…
QT4: TEAM LEBRON 25 v. 21 TEAM DURING
Who says last quarter says defenses that wake up and competitiveness finally at the rendezvous. Evidenced by the few faults whistled by the referees.
While Stephen Curry is doing his best to get Anthony Davis’ points record (52, in 2017) in an All-Star Game, Joel Embiid continues to rule under the panels, despite Jarrett’s presence Allen, preferred to Nikola Jokic in the “money-time”.
Without mercy with Khris Middleton, whom he badly countered, Giannis Antetokounmpo sets an example in defense for Team LeBron, in addition to doing so as often on offense. But Devin Booker and LaMelo Ball, invaluable for Team Durant, are not let down, while DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine return the favor in scoring.
Finally, it is the boss LeBron James who decides to steal the show from Stephen Curry, on the last possession. At 161-160, the “King” actually decides to take responsibility. In isolation, he asks for the ball with his back to the basket, delays a little then tries a superb “fadeaway”, despite the challenge of Zach LaVine then Joel Embiid…
…Bingo! On his old floor, and in front of dozens of legends of the game, the quadruple MVP thus offers victory to his people and remains undefeated at the same time in five games, since the NBA abandoned the “East against West” format! One finish dantesque and thrilling, which makes up for (in part) all the disappointment of the day before…