CHICAGO — Like playground rules, it was next basket wins at the revamped NBA all-star game.
Unfortunately, that victory came via a made free throw, a boring ending to a thrilling night. Hometown kid Anthony Davis sunk it after he was fouled by Kyle Lowry, the six-time Raptors all-star, who had made some great late plays to get the game that far. Davis missed his first shot, but nailed the second and Team LeBron earned the 157-155 win.
Kawhi Leonard led all scorers with 30 points, including eight three pointers and earned the first renamed Kobe Bryant all-star MVP trophy.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 25, Kemba Walker, LeBron James and Chris Paul 23. Toronto Raptors guard Lowry had 13, along with eight assists and Pascal Siakam had 15 in his first all-star start.
“That was extremely fun,” James said afterward and he sure was right.
The night began with all-time great Magic Johnson taking the mic to pay tribute to David Stern and Bryant, the two NBA icons who both died in the last two months. Chicago native Jennifer Hudson followed with a stirring and instantly iconic rendition of ‘For all we know’ in Bryant’s honour.
The game that followed was nearly as good. It was the first all-star contest played under new rules which were aimed at making it more interesting and hard-fought.
The winner of each of the first three quarters donated to charities, while the team w