In the revamped NBA All-Star Game aimed to honour the late Kobe Bryant, Team LeBron came out on top against Team Giannis 157-155 at the United Center in Chicago.
This was not a game you would associate with the All-Star Weekend, where stars turn up for some fun activities, for the game was full of intensity, as players charged at each other like they were playing for the ultimate thing in the NBA regular-season, made fouls, and of course, there were some contentious calls as well. The game in itself, the ferocity on the court, was perhaps the biggest tribute to the late Kobe Bryant at the All-Star Weekend, where speeches were given and songs were sung to honour the legendary Los Angeles Lakers star.
Kawhi Leonard was awarded the winner of the first Kobe Bryant All-Star MVP Award for his match-high 30 points on 11-of-18 shooting. The former Toronto Raptors superstar also clocked a game-high eight 3-pointers but missed out the All-Star Game record by one-shot currently held by Paul George after he buried 9 shots from beyond the arc in 2016.
“This one is for him.”
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) February 17, 2020
“Words can’t explain how happy I am for it,” Leonard said.
“Able to put that trophy in my room, in my trophy room, and just be able to see Kobe’s name on there, it just means a lot to me.”
The 69th edition of the All-Star Game was played with a new format. Under the new rules, the first three quarters started with the score at 0-0 and lasted the standard 12 minutes, with the cumulative score of the first three quarters added up going into the penultimate quarter. Team Giannis was in lead at 133-124 at the start of the last phase of the game, but here’s the catch. To make the game more exciting, a final score was set by adding 24 – to honour Kobe Bryant – to the leading team’s cumulative score of the first three quarters, with the team reaching the marker first winning the game. Team LeBron won the game after Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis converted the second of his two free throws to beat Team Giannis.
Apart from Kawhi Leonard’s game-high 30 points, LeBron James had 23 points in just 19 minutes, while Chris Paul also dropped 23 points for Team LeBron. Paul was allowed to play the entire fourth quarter ahead of Luka Doncic.
James Harden (11 points), Anthony Davis (20 points) and Ben Simmons (17 points) also touched the double-digit mark for Team LeBron.
For Team Giannis, the Greek-Freak himself led the charge and dropped a team-high 25 points on 12-of-21 shooting. The 2018-19 NBA MVP also had 11 rebounds and was one of three players from his team to drop the double-double.
Rudy Gobert had 21 points and 11 boards in only 19 minutes, while Joel Embiid scored 22 points and 10 rebounds. Pascal Siakam (15 points), Kemba Walker (23 points), Trae Young (10 points) and Kyle Lowry (10 points) scored in double digits for Team Giannis.