CHARLOTTE, N.C. — LeBron James sure knows how to draft in this NBA All-Star format.
Team LeBron had talent.
James, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Anthony Davis and Dwyane Wade have combined for six MVPs, seven Finals MVPs and seven All-Star MVPs among them.
Throw in shooters Damian Lillard, Klay Thompson and Bradley Beal off the bench for even more scoring.
Team LeBron defeated Team Giannis 178-164 in Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game. Durant had a team-high 31 points and was named MVP, James and Leonard each had 19 and Lillard 18. Irving had 13 points, nine rebounds and six assists, and Thompson added 20 points.
It was the second consecutive year Team LeBron won the All-Star Game.
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Like just about every All-Star Game, a majority of the game was a glorified exhibition with easy dunks, open 3s and zero defense. But as tends to happen in this annual celebration of basketball, when the score narrowed by the fourth quarter, players were in to win.
Down the stretch, Team Giannis coach Mike Budenholzer and Team LeBron coach Mike Malone countered with these lineups: Kemba Walker, Steph Curry, Paul George, Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo on one side and Harden, Lillard, Irving, James and Durant on the other.
Trailing for a majority of the game, Team LeBron had a big third quarter, led by Lillard and Thompson. Team LeBron took a lead into the fourth quarter — its first lead since early in the first. It pulled away down the stretch, outscoring Team Giannis 25-11 in the final 7:05.
Team LeBron made 35 3-pointers.
For a minute, it was a Milwaukee Bucks All-Star show with Budenholzer and his staff on the bench. Antetokounmpo scored 16 points in the first quarter and 20 in the first half, and Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton made his first four 3-pointers and had 17 points in the first half. Antetokounmpo had a game-high 38 points and 11 rebounds.
This All-Star Game had its sweet, sentimental moments, too. Dirk Nowitzki and Wade played in what is likely their final All-Star Game.
Nowitzki took it seriously. He warmed up pregame and on his first shot, he made a 3-pointer. And on his second, he made another three-pointer. And on his third shot, another 3.
And, for old time’s sake, James threw an alley-oop to Wade.
Just want fans wanted to see.
Follow Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt