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In a spectacular weekend-long celebration in Northeast Ohio, it wasn’t a Cavalier who sealed the victory in Sunday night’s All-Star Game in Cleveland. Instead, it was a couple dudes that were born in Akron.
Both sired the Rubber City, Steph Curry erupted for 50 points and LeBron James drilled the game-winning fadeaway, as Team LeBron took the 163-160 decision the NBA’s 71st annual midseason classic at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
Curry’s 50-point performance easily earned him MVP honors and James’ game-winning bucket resulted in $450,000 for Kent State’s “I Promise” Scholars – capping an extraordinary weekend on the North Coast.
After three competitive quarters – at least on the scoreboard – both teams fought to reach the target score of 163 in the fourth.
Cavaliers first-time All-Stars Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen started the fourth quarter for Team LeBron – and each got on the scoreboard in the period – but it was James and Curry who did much of the heavy lifting. After Zach LaVine’s three-pointer got Team Durant to within one, 161-160, LeBron backed down the Bulls guard on the next possession, lifting and connecting on a 17-footer to end the affair.
One night after joining their teammate, Evan Mobley, to win the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, Garland and Allen both were rock-solid in their initial career All-Star Game appearances.
Garland – who won both events he participated in this weekend – finished with 13 points on Sunday, going 5-of-12 from the floor, including 3-of-7 from long-distance, adding three assists and a pair of steals.
”I’ve been dreaming about this my whole life,” said the 3rd-year guard. “At the age of 22, being so young, it was pretty cool to just being here with all the greats – just to even touch a basketball and experience everything. It was pretty cool.”
Allen was even more efficient – netting 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting, grabbing nine rebounds to lead all reserves and swatting a pair of shots in the victory.
After the league celebrated its 50th anniversary the last time the All-Star Game rolled into Cleveland back in 1997 – presenting the game’s 50 greatest players of all-time. On Sunday night, the NBA marked 75 years with the top 75 – including several of the night’s participants, including James, Curry, Chris Paul and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The biggest ovations were reserved for Michael Jordan, the late Kobe Bryant and James – who was making his 18th career All-Star appearance in the arena he called home for 11 seasons.
James, with his idol in the gym, paid tribute to the Bulls superstar following Sunday’s win.
"I always wanted to be like him, growing up,” said James. “It’s crazy that the shot tonight was a fadeaway – and it was inspired by MJ. I didn’t want to waste the opportunity, because we’re not in the same building a lot. It meant something to me.”
Joel Embiid led Team Durant with 36 points, going 14-for-20, including 5-of-8 from deep, to go with 10 boards in the loss. Along with Curry’s 50-burger for the winning squad, Giannis added 30 points and a game-high 12 rebounds while James pumped in 24 points on 11-of-24 shooting, including the game-winner.
After an incredible weekend in Cleveland, the regular season restarts for the Wine and Gold – who’ll begin the 24-game homestretch of the season on Thursday night in Motown.
Miss any of the action? Find all the highlights and photos in the Game Tracker.