The usual buzz and excitement that comes with the NBA All-Star Game was largely absent at Staples Center on Sunday night, which may have played a factor in the sluggish start. Or perhaps it was the attention to defense from tipoff.
In the end, Team LeBron overcame a late deficit to edge by Team Stephen, 148-145, with the intensity turning up late. Team Stephen held an 11-point lead through the first quarter, with Karl-Anthony Towns shining early with 11 points.
Anthony Davis paced Team LeBron with six points, while LeBron James and Bradley Beal each had five. The first quarter was played with a few highlight-worthy slam dunks and alley-oops, but several passes were also off the mark.
With his team still trailing by double-digits, James began to lead a 3-point barrage in the second quarter. It cut their deficit to one point and had them down by two at the half.
Despite a roster that boasted sharpshooters Stephen Curry, James Harden and Klay Thompson, the trio at one point were a combined 2-for-16 from deep.
Curry and Thompson rebounded some, as the Golden State Warriors starting backcourt connected on their next three attempts. Thompson’s 15 points tied him with James for the game-high at halftime.
Joel Embiid had a rather entertaining sequence in the second quarter, making a 3-pointer, then blocking a Russell Westbrook layup attempt. Despite some of the bad blood that’s boiled over between the two during the regular season, play continued without incident.
A Kevin Durant 3-pointer to start third quarter gave Team Lebron a 79-78 lead, but it was short-lived as Embiid sparked a 9-0 run. With 19 points, James was the leading scorer through three quarters, followed by Towns who had 17 points.
Team Stephen extended their lead to as many as 13 points in the fourth quarter, but for much of the final six minutes it was a one-possession game. A James’ 3-pointer tied it late, and after DeMar DeRozan split a pair of free throws, James’ left-handed layup gave his team a lead.
Westbrook’s breakaway layup extended it to three points, and Team Stephen failed to get a shot up on their final possession. James finished with a game-high 29 points, while DeRozan and Damian Lillard each had 21 points for Team Stephen.
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