Stephen Curry was welcomed as the hometown hero in Charlotte and Kemba Walker had fans’ support for representing the host city, but it was Kevin Durant who earned 2019 NBA All-Star Game MVP honors as he helped lead Team LeBron to a 178-164 comeback win over Team Giannis.
While Giannis Antetokounmpo made his first nine attempts on the night, it was teammate Khris Middleton who was instrumental to Team Giannis creating separation early that carried them throughout the game.
Middleton connected on three consecutive 3-pointers upon checking in, with Antetokounmpo assisting on two of the makes. In his first All-Star Game, Middleton made his first four attempts from deep.
Team Giannis led by as many as 20 points and closed the first quarter on back-to-back 3-pointers by Dirk Nowitzki, igniting the Spectrum Center crowd. Team Giannis’ 53 points tied an All-Star record (West in 2016, East in 2017) for most in a single quarter.
Nowitzki remained perfect by draining another 3-pointer in the second quarter before checking out for good.
Ben Simmons helped spark a bit of a comeback for Team LeBron by attacking the rim and setting others up for easy looks.
As the 31st All-Star in Los Angeles Lakers franchise history, LeBron James eased his way through much of the night. James did help key a 10-2 run for Team LeBron prior to halftime, which allowed them to keep it close.
The third quarter saw James find Dwyane Wade for an alley-oop, and he then returned the favor a few possessions later by going off the backboard to James. They were the type of moments the close friends hoped to have in their final All-Star Game together.
Team LeBron mounted a 19-2 run midway through the third quarter to cut their deficit to two points. After Russell Westbrook helped stabilize Team Giannis, Damian Lillard drained a 32-footer to tie the game.
That momentum gave Team LeBron a 132-131 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Both teams caught fire over the final 12 minutes, with Curry, Kawhi Leonard, D’Angelo Russell and Middleton all trading 3-pointers.
A 13-0 run by Team LeBron put them ahead by eight points but it was met by Team Giannis going on their own spurt. James then asserted himself with a step-back 3-pointer over Joel Embiid followed by a lob pass from Irving.
Kevin Durant’s 3-pointer extended Team LeBron’s lead to 11 points with two minutes remaining and essentially iced the game. The win was a second in a row for Team LeBron.
James finished with 19 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Antetokounmpo paced all players with 38 points.
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