2019 NBA All-Star recap
Kevin Durant collects MVP honors after he helps Team LeBron rally from a 20-point hole to topple Team Giannis, 178-164.
From NBA.com Staff
Team LeBron 178, Team Giannis 164, Spectrum Center (Charlotte)
MVP: Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors
Team LeBron found itself down 20 in the second half to Team Giannis in the 2019 All-Star Game. But it didn’t take long for LeBron James and his crew to catch fire and rally for a 178-164 win in Charlotte at the Spectrum Center.
MVP Kevin Durant scored 31 points for Team LeBron, the one that James drafted and led to victory in the captain’s-choice format for a second consecutive season. Klay Thompson scored 20 points, and James and Kawhi Leonard each had 19 for the winners.
“It’s all sweet to me,” Durant said after getting his second All-Star MVP award, to go with the one he claimed in 2012. “It’s hard to rank because everything’s special. But it’s cool to be out there with some of the best players to ever play the game. And to win MVP in front of my family and friends is pretty sweet.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo — the first-time captain — led everybody with 38 points on 17 for 23 shooting for the club he drafted. Paul George and Khris Middleton each scored 20 points for Team Giannis, which got 17 apiece from Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook.
The highlights, as would be expected, were absurdly good, time and again.
Curry slammed the ball off the floor on a first-half fast break and watched it ricochet toward the rim with an apex that flirted with the top of the backboard. Too high for most humans — but Antetokounmpo isn’t most humans. The freakishly long Greek star slammed Curry’s unconventional alley-oop pass home, with both benches reacting in disbelief.
Curry then slammed an alley-oop on the last play of the game, to himself, for a dunk that closed the scoring in his hometown.
Team Giannis set an All-Star record with 23 field goals in the first quarter, topping the mark of 22 set on four other occasions — by both the West and the East in the first quarter of the 2017 game, and by the West in both the second and third quarters of the 2016 game.
The 53 points tied a one-quarter All-Star record as well, matching the total by the West in the third quarter of the 2016 games and by the East in the first quarter of the 2017 game. But when it was time to get competitive, things tightened up considerably, at least by All-Star standards.
But when Team LeBron used a flurry of 3s to get back into it in the third quarter, everyone on the bench was standing — sometimes running from the bench and onto the court during play, the celebrations a bit more exuberant than what’s usually allowed.
This All-Star Game was a pivotal one in NBA history as two icons of the league from the 2000s made their All-Star farewells. Longtime Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade and Dallas Mavericks star and former MVP Dirk Nowitzki played in their final All-Star Game. Both were late adds to the game by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, in honor of their career bodies of work. Both played in the game in festive moments, just as many had hoped for.
Nowitzki entered the game late in the first quarter and made his first three shots — all of them 3-pointers — before heading back to the bench. Wade checked in not long after Nowitzki took the floor, then started the second half and achieved his primary missions for his last All-Star Game as a player.
He got an alley-oop lob from James. And he threw an alley-oop lob to James.
Wade dunked, James dunked, and the close friends who entered the NBA together in 2003 and won championships with Miami in 2012 and 2013 got a couple more moments to savor in their final night as on-court teammates.
Wade finished with seven points in 10 minutes, and Nowitzki never returned after his nine-point, four-minute opening stint. When the third quarter ended, every player gathered behind them as Wade and Nowitzki were honored with commemorative jerseys at midcourt.
“Thank you to the commissioner and the NBA for allowing us to both be on this stage again,” Nowitzki said.
“Exactly what Dirk said,” Wade said as he took the microphone. “We’re very thankful for this opportunity. … The game is in great hands. It’s easy to walk away right now.”
All-Star Game rosters
LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers)
James Harden (Houston Rockets)
Kevin Durant (Golden State Warriors)
Kyrie Irving (Boston Celtics)
Kawhi Leonard (Toronto Raptors)
Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers)
Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors)
Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards)
Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers)
Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota Timberwolves)
LaMarcus Aldridge (San Antonio Spurs)
Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat)
Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans)
Coach: Michael Malone (Denver Nuggets)
Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)
Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
Paul George (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers)
Kemba Walker (Charlotte Hornets)
Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks)
Blake Griffin (Detroit Pistons)
Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets)
Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors)
Nikola Vucevic (Orlando Magic)
Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas Mavericks)
D’Angelo Russell (Brooklyn Nets) **
Victor Oladipo (Indiana Pacers) *
Coach: Mike D’Antoni (Houston Rockets)
All-Star Weekend Wrap
Slam Dunk Contest: Hamidou Diallo, Oklahoma City Thunder
3-point Contest: Joe Harris, Brooklyn Nets
Skills Challenge: Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
Rising Stars Challenge: USA 161, World 144
Rising Stars MVP: Kyle Kuzma (35 points)
NOTE: * = missed game due to injury; ** = injury replacement