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March 9, 2021

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Giannis claims MVP as Team LeBron dominates

Damian Lillard nailed a game-ending 3-pointer from just inside half court as LeBron James improved to 4-0 as an NBA All-Star Game captain with a 170-150 win over Team Durant on Sunday.

Two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo captured the Kobe Bryant MVP Award going a perfect 16-for-16 from the field for a game-high 35 points in Atlanta. “It’s fun. I was happy,” said Antetokounmpo. “I just love being around great players. It makes it easier to play with them.”

Antetokounmpo’s 16-for-16 game easily eclipsed the previous All-Star record of the Philadelphia 76ers’ Hal Greer, who went 8-for-8 in 1968. Antetokounmpo also made all three of his 3-pointers.

James improved to 4-0 in All-Star games he has served as a team captain. He finished with 4 points in just 13 minutes of playing time.

“I always try to pick the right team, and I’ve been lucky enough for four years to pick the right team,” James said. “Guys go out and compete and play to win. I’ve been on the winning side of all four.”

James’ participation in the annual showcase was at one time in doubt. Last month James slammed the NBA for holding the contest during the global pandemic calling it a “slap in the face.”

NBA commissioner Adam Silver responded to the criticism from James and others at a weekend news conference, saying the players he spoke to this week were in favor of holding the contest.

“It would have been a bigger deal not to have it,” Silver said. “I know that some players have made public comments suggesting they’d rather not be at All-Star. Many have told me directly they’re thrilled to be All Stars.”

Antetokounmpo becomes just the second winner of the MVP award named in honor of Bryant who died in a helicopter crash near Los Angeles in January 2020. Kawhi Leonard was the first recipient at last year’s All-Star Game in Chicago.

“To have the trophy with the name of Kobe Bryant, it’s amazing, and I know he would be happy. Yeah, I know he’d be happy,” said Antetokounmpo.

The 70th All-Star Game had a different feel to it because there were no fans in the arena due to the global pandemic.

But that didn’t stop the players from putting on a show at the State Farm Arena, including a healthy dose of dunks, alley-oops, behind the back passes and long-range 3s like the one by Lillard, who finished with 32 points.

Stephen Curry, who won the 3-point shooting contest earlier in the day, hit six 3s in the first half en route to a 28-point night for Team LeBron.

Bradley Beal scored a team-high 26 points and Kyrie Irving delivered 24 points and 12 assists for Team Durant.


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