In the latest edition of the annual NBA All-Star game, Team LeBron lost to Team Giannis 184-175, in Salt Lake City. The laid-back exhibition was mostly an exchange of buckets until the third quarter where Jayson Tatum broke the game open and sealed the win.
Tatum ended the night with the All-Star MVP award and 55 points, the most ever for an All-Star game. Donovan Mitchell had a spectacular night as well, dropping 40. Kyrie Irving and Joel Embiid led Team LeBron with 32 a piece.
Both captains were done early Sunday night. LeBron James only played the first half and scored 13 points in his 14 minutes, and Giannis Antetokounmpo played even less scoring one basket before being subbed out.
For the first time ever, the captains of each respective conference picked players immediately before the game. It was as entertaining as you could expect.
From Antetokounmpo not knowing when he could draft Ja Morant to James being a bit too excited drafting Kyrie Irving and then inserting a dad joke calling Luka Doncic — Hookah Doncic.
The #NBAAllStar teams are 'd in.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 20, 2023
Who ya got: Team LeBron or Team Giannis? pic.twitter.com/Xq2tk43hpy
On the court, James got going immediately, hitting from deep and then absurdly passed it to himself off the backboard, ala Tracy McGrady.
Guess the foot is feeling fine!
LeBron James off the backboard to HIMSELF pic.twitter.com/o5WQEJ44Em— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) February 20, 2023
By halftime, Team Giannis was up 99-92 on Team LeBron. The MVP candidates started to emerge thanks to non-existent defense, as James, Mitchell, Tatum, Irving, Joel Embiid, Jaylen Brown, Pascal Siakam and Lauri Markkanen all had double-digit points. Down by seven, James’ undefeated streak as captain was in clear jeopardy.
James was forced to watch from the sidelines for the remainder of the game due to an apparent hand injury, as he was ruled out for the second half after hitting his hand on the rim earlier in the contest.
That didn’t stop the festivities however, as the league honored James for breaking the all-time scoring record with a wonderful tribute during halftime. It’s worth noting James seemed in good spirits and shook hands with a few legends during the ceremony that hopefully indicates the early departure was only precautionary.
The second half was all Team Giannis as Tatum caught fire, scoring 27 points in the third quarter alone. The closing minute showed us some glimpses of defense however, with Celtics’ teammates Tatum and Jaylen Brown guarding each other on multiple possessions. Both scored a three over each other and the quarter ended with Brown unable to get a final shot off over Tatum as the clock expired.
JAYSON TATUM TAKEOVER.— NBA (@NBA) February 20, 2023
39 PTS TOTAL. 20 PTS IN THE QUARTER #NBAAllStar | Live on TNT pic.twitter.com/uyyMW4OU05
With the target score of 182, Team Giannis needed just 24 points to seal the win in the final frame, while Team LeBron needed a whopping 41. It went as you expected. Team Giannis sealed the game quickly ending the night with a Lillard — of course — three to secure the win.
While James played well in his All-Star appearance and Scotty Pippen Jr. represented the South Bay Lakers in the G-League Next Up Game, now that the weekend festivities are over it’s time for the Lakers to focus on the final leg of the season.
A stretch in which James labeled “23 of the most important games of my career.” Do the Lakers have enough time to jell and make a run? We will get our first sign of an answer Thursday when the Lakers resume play against the Golden State Warriors.