Sabonis Reflects on First All-Star Game

Feb. 16, 2020 - Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis speaks with the media after playing in his first NBA All-Star Game in Chicago, a 157-155 victory for Team LeBron.

All-Star Game 2020

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Sabonis Reflects on First All-Star Game

Feb. 16, 2020 - Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis speaks with the media after playing in his first NBA All-Star Game in Chicago, a 157-155 victory for Team LeBron.
Feb 17, 2020  |  01:40

Sabonis Defends Embiid

Feb. 16, 2020 - Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis defends Joel Embiid in the post, forcing a turnover in the fourth quarter of the 2020 NBA All-Star Game.
Feb 17, 2020  |  00:10

Sabonis Gets On the Board

Feb. 16, 2020 - Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis knocks down the free throw for his first point in the 2020 All-Star Game.
Feb 16, 2020  |  00:22

Common Introduces Sabonis

Feb. 16, 2020 - Rapper Common introduces Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis ahead of his first career NBA All-Star Game.
Feb 16, 2020  |  00:11

All-Star Game Rewind: Team LeBron 157, Team Giannis 155

Sabonis Has Two Points, Six Rebounds in First All-Star Game
by Wheat Hotchkiss Writer/Editor

Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis made his All-Star debut on Sunday night in Chicago. The 6-11 forward had two points and six rebounds in the 69th annual All-Star Game, which ended in thrilling fashion.

Team LeBron topped Team Giannis, 157-155, winning on a walkoff free throw from Anthony Davis in a new experimental format that saw the two teams play to a set target score in an untimed fourth quarter.

"It was amazing," Sabonis said after the game. "It was just crazy being out there with those guys. And like everyone saw, that last quarter was pretty intense."

Sabonis didn't see the floor in the first quarter, but his teammates for Team LeBron went 9-for-18 from 3-point range (with reigning NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard going 4-for-4 from distance) to take the frame, 53-41, and earn $100,000 for the Chicago Scholars program.

Sabonis checked in for the first time at the 10:27 mark in the second quarter. He got involved quickly, taking a dish from his former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate Russell Westbrook and drawing a foul on Giannis Antetokounmpo seven seconds after entering.

The 6-11 Lithuanian rattled in his first free throw, but missed the second.

Later in the frame, Rudy Gobert blocked Davis' attempted dunk off a lob from LeBron James. Sabonis was there to collect the rebound and went up strong. He missed with Gobert contesting, but managed to secure another offensive board to keep the possession alive and eventually Leonard knocked down an open three.

Sabonis checked out with 3:27 remaining in the first half.

PHOTOS: Domantas Sabonis at 2020 All-Star Weekend »

Team Giannis took the second quarter, 51-30, earning $100,000 for the After School Matters charity and taking an overall nine-point lead into halftime. First-time All-Star Trae Young brought the crowd to its feet just before the half, swishing a halfcourt shot at the buzzer.

The third quarter was dramatic, coming down to the final seconds to determine which charity would be given an additional $100,000. Rudy Gobert's dunk with 34 seconds left gave Team Giannis a 39-37 lead, but Nikola Jokic answered with a 3-pointer with 22.9 seconds left to give Team LeBron a one-point lead.

After a Kyle Lowry turnover, Team Giannis elected to foul, sending Westbrook to the line with 12.4 seconds left. Westbrook hit the first foul shot, but missed the second. On the other end, Trae Young connected with Gobert on an alley-oop, tying the quarter with 2.2 seconds remaining.

After a timeout, Westbrook missed a runner at the buzzer, ending the third quarter in a 41-41 tie, carrying over the $100,000 to the fourth quarter.

Overall, Team Giannis took a 133-124 lead into the fourth quarter. Under the new format of this year's All-Star Game, the two teams played an untimed fourth quarter where the first team to reach 157 points would win. That figure was determined by adding 24 (in honor of the late Kobe Bryant) to the leading team's total points after the first three quarters.

Sabonis did not see action in the third quarter, but started the fourth. Early in the frame, he caught a dish from Chris Paul and drew another foul, this one on Joel Embiid. Sabonis missed the first free throw, but knocked down the second.

He collected his sixth rebound of the night on the next possession, springing a break that ended with a Westbrook layup. Sabonis helped Team LeBron open the fourth quarter with a 12-7 run to trim the deficit to 140-136 before he was subbed out.

Team LeBron continued its rally from there, tying the game on two occasions before moving in front 152-150 on a Davis dunk. The final quarter went on for an extended period, with a number of big defensive stops and many debates and even challenges after foul calls.

Team LeBron led 156-153 after a dunk by James, though Team Giannis got to within two points of the target score after two free throws by Embiid.

The game finally ended when Lowry was whistled for grabbing Davis' arm. Davis missed the first free throw, but hit the second, sealing the game and wrapping up a win for Team LeBron. The victory also won an additional $300,000 for the Chicago Scholars, who stormed the court and celebrated with Sabonis and his teammates.

"It was really intense," Sabonis said of the ending. "It was great seeing up close the best athletes — they just wanted to win. They were saying things, they weren't going to let anything easy stop them.

"I think (the new format) was really good. It's really intense. I feel like the (All-Star) game should be played like that the whole way, like a real game. It just makes it more interesting."

Leonard was named the Kobe Bryant All-Star Game MVP after scoring a game-high 30 points, going 8-for-14 from 3-point range, and tallying seven rebounds, four assists, and two steals.

James added 23 points, five rebounds, six assists, and two blocks for Team LeBron, while Paul had 23 points and six assists off the bench.

Antetokounmpo led Team Giannis with 25 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, and three blocks. Kemba Walker added 23 points, while Embiid had 22 points and 10 rebounds.


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