CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It have to be deflating for 29 groups to see the NBA stage its annual, purely-for-fun midseason exhibition and the Golden State Warriors steal that sport, too.
The league’s All-Stars gathered Sunday in Charlotte, N.C., to placed on a present on the Spectrum Middle, solely to see members of the two-time defending champions change into the ringleaders as soon as once more.
There was Steph Curry, raised in Charlotte and anxious to impress the previous neighborhood, making the 2 prettiest bounce passes of the night time, one to Giannis Antetokounmpo and one to … himself.
There was Klay Thompson, sporting a special uniform than Curry for the primary time of their careers. He was attempting laborious to carry trash-talking rights again to Oakland and got here shut to creating a down cost.
And there was Kevin Durant. He is the actual MVP.
Workforce LeBron came-from-behind to beat Workforce Giannis, 178-164.
All instructed, the 68th All-Star Sport had some chilly stretches and wanted to be rescued, and — would not you realize — three members of probably the most adorned crew this decade did what they do. It was tremendous for leisure worth and dreadful for championship hopes held by anybody with concepts of tripping the Warriors come spring and summertime.
A minimum of the weekend wasn’t a complete Warriors romp: Curry did lose the MTN DEW Three-Level Contest to Joe Harris of the Brooklyn Nets.
The All-Star Weekend was just a few years late coming to Charlotte, initially scheduled for 2017 previous to a politically charged delay, and the league hustled to do proper by town and likewise Michael Jordan, proprietor of the Hornets. The showcase gave the NBA some briefly (and much-needed) reduction from competitors, not solely the primary two-thirds of the common season, but additionally from the Anthony Davis sweepstakes.
The centerpiece of the weekend was the sport itself, and let the document present all of social media and the Lakers that LeBron James is certainly able to selecting gamers that may assist him win. There was some query about that over the previous couple of dramatic weeks. LeBron captained his crew, maybe notably containing 4 stars who’ll change into free brokers this summer time, to a 178-164 win over Workforce Giannis.
Kevin Durant earned his second Kia All-Star MVP with 31 factors.
The sport was distinctive in that it contained 13 gamers on every squad as an alternative of the standard 12. That is as a result of Adam Silver used his commissioner’s energy so as to add two legends, Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki, one in every of whom is certainly retiring and the opposite is predicted to, however hasn’t made something official but.
When Workforce LeBron coach Mike Budenholzer despatched Nowitzki to the scorer’s desk to examine in, Mike Malone, to not be outcoached, instantly signaled for Wade. It was a staged photo-and-applause op and it labored; Wade and Dirk acquired standing ovations from the Spectrum Middle as they collectively walked on the ground for the ultimate time as All-Stars.
What occurred subsequent was pure: Dirk hit his first three pictures, all Three-pointers, as his teammates rose from the bench and celebrated each.
“I simply needed to play a couple of minutes and hoist up a Three,” he stated. “The primary shot I figured, ‘Hey, final time on stage, I will go for it,’ and it went in. The second, I stated, ‘I will get a little bit deeper,’ and it went in. The third, I needed to see what occurred and it went in too. It was a pleasure to compete another time with these guys. An awesome weekend for me.”
Shortly thereafter, Wade linked along with his BFF and former teammate LeBron on just a few lob passes, harking back to their successful mixtures on a pair of championships in Miami.
“Like I have been saying the final couple of days, it has been a bittersweet second for me and him,” LeBron stated. “The bitter half is clearly this being the final time on the identical ground collectively and the recollections now we have as rivals and teammates.
“After which the candy a part of it’s seeing him be capable of exit on his personal phrases, saying when he is carried out and no one forcing him out and or something of that nature. He is capable of dangle it up when he desires to hold it up and be at peace with it.”
Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki had been particular choices of Commissioner Adam Silver.
It was enjoyable and becoming and the 2 future Corridor of Famers had been clearly affected and choked up, particularly as they accepted framed All-Star jerseys throughout a quick ceremony previous to the fourth quarter.
However make no mistake, this was extra in regards to the Warriors right here at a vital checkpoint, flexing their expertise for all to see and envy and in the end respect.
Thompson discovered himself in a playful one-upmanship with Curry and, effectively … Thompson got here up quick. He did drill a Three-pointer from the nook, whereas Curry, sitting close by on the bench, yelled for a miss. However Curry dropped a deep Three-pointer whereas being hacked by Thompson, falling to the ground on the toes of rapper Quavo after which finishing the Four-point play.
“It was good to see Steph knock down that shot over Klay as a result of Klay is at all times speaking trash to him,” stated Durant. “It was enjoyable to see. These guys are at all times joking round and seeing who can take advantage of pictures. Their chemistry collectively is second-to-none. So we all know we will be speaking about that play for the subsequent two days.”
Durant snagged his second All-Star Sport MVP, and first with the Warriors, by tallying 31 factors, together with some massive buckets down the stretch. There is not a significant trophy Durant hasn’t received: two Finals MVPs, two All-Star MVPs, a regular-season MVP, two NBA titles.
His subsequent is perhaps one other title this summer time, and after that it is time for a brand new contract … someplace.
Stephen Curry bounced a spectacular alley-oop to Giannis Antetokounmpo on Sunday.
For Curry, the weekend was a dream. It was 27 years in the past that he watched his first All-Star Weekend from the lap of his father, who was a Three-Level Contest participant in 1992. He got here from humble basketball beginnings, a scrawny teenager who could not draw a lot curiosity from Division I colleges, after which took close by Davidson Faculty to nationwide prominence.
The whole Curry household soaked all of it in: Steph, Dell, brother Seth — who battled his brother within the Three-Level Contest — and the remaining.
Showing in Charlotte for the All-Star Sport served as a profession spotlight to be checked off a slightly lengthy and rising listing for Curry. Feeling a bit pressured to carry out, particularly after being upset within the Three-Level Contest Finals, Curry unloaded with a pair of performs made for YouTube.
On the break, he bounced the ball off the ground and excessive within the air, thereby qualifying as a lob move, which was dunked by Giannis.
“I feel that move was going to Joel (Embiid) however I used to be capable of sneak in there and make it appear to be a superb move to me,” Giannis stated. “It was a pleasant play.”
After which, with the clock ticking off the ultimate seconds of Charlotte’s basketball weekend, Curry bounced one other move excessive, grabbed it, twisted within the air, and dunked a reverse.
Stephen Curry’s recognized for his shot, however he threw down with power within the fourth.
“All y’all noticed me in LA a few weeks in the past” stated Curry, making point out of his embarrassing slip and fall whereas trying a elaborate breakaway dunk towards the Clippers. “Properly, I redeemed myself.”
With that, the sport and weekend had been wrapped for Charlotte, by a child from Charlotte. Everyone go house. Everyone put together for the season’s final two months. And extra of what is coming from the Warriors.
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Shaun Powell has lined the NBA for greater than 25 years. You’ll be able to e-mail him right here, discover his archive right here and observe him on Twitter.
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