LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Despite scoring just four points tonight, LeBron James remained perfect when selecting his NBA All-Star Game teammates.
Team LeBron defeated Team Durant, 170-150, in the 70th annual NBA All-Star Game in Atlanta, the fourth time in four years James' team won since the league switched from the East-West format to having players select the teams.
“I always try to pick the right team, and I've been lucky enough for four years to pick the right team,'' James said.
James was the leading vote-getter among Western Conference players for the third time in his three seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, making him a team captain. Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant was the leading vote-getter in the Eastern Conference and the game's other captain.
As the top overall vote-getter, James got the first choice in the draft of all-star players, and made Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo the first selection.
Antetokounmpo was selected as the recipient of the NBA All-Star Game Kobe Bryant MVP Award by scoring a game-high 35 points. Team LeBron outscored Team Durant by 17 points during the 19 minutes, 12 seconds Antetokounmpo was on the court.
James made two of seven shots, including missing all three of his 3-point shots, in 12:46 of play. Team LeBron was outscored by three points while James was in the game. The only other Team LeBron player to have a negative plus-minus rating was Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic. The team was outscored by one point in his 31:36.
Before Sunday, James had never scored fewer than 13 points in an All-Star Game. The four points increased James' record total in All-Star Games to in 17 games. Bryant is second with 290 points in 15 games.
The lone Los Angeles Clipper on Team LeBron, forward Paul George, scored 17 points, making six of eight shots, including five of seven 3-point shots, in 26:17 off the bench. George had plus-three plus-minus.
The game's other Clipper, forward Kawhi Leonard, started for Team Durant and scored eight points in 19:41 and had a minus-three plus-minus.
A second Laker, forward Anthony Davis, was also selected for the All-Star Game as a reserve, but did not play because of a right calf strain that has sidelined him since a Feb. 14 game against the Denver Nuggets.
Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard added 32 points, Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry 28 and Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown 22 for Team LeBron.
Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal led Team Durant with 26 points while Brooklyn guard Kyrie Irving added 24 and Nets guard James Harden and Celtics forward Jayson Tatum 21 each.
Both teams lost one player because of coronavirus issues.
Prior to traveling to Atlanta, Philadelphia 76ers' center Joel Embiid and guard Ben Simmons had contact with an individual who was confirmed Sunday to have tested positive for the coronavirus. Participation for other All-Stars and members of the 76ers coaching staff in Atlanta is not affected because they were not exposed to the individual in Philadelphia, according to the league.
Embiid was to start for Team Durant. Simmons was to be a reserve for Team LeBron.
State Farm Arena was closed to the public for the game.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the All-Star Weekend's customary three days of activities was condensed to one and several have been dropped. The Skills Challenge and 3-Point Contest, both preceded the game, and the dunk contest, was held at halftime.
The All-Star Game provided financial support for Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Team LeBron played for Thurgood Marshall College Fund, composed of 47 publicly supported HBCUs. Team Durant will play for the United Negro College Fund, consisting of 37 member colleges.
The organization represented by the team scoring the most points in a quarter was awarded $150,000. Team LeBron outscored Team Durant, 40-39, in the first quarter, 60-41 in the second and 46-45 in the third.
Each organization received an initial $500,000 contribution.
For the second consecutive year, 24 points was incorporated into the calculation of the final target score to honor Bryant, who wore 24 for the final 10 seasons of his career. Team LeBron scored 146 points through the first three quarters, making 170 the target score. The first team to reach or exceed the target score won the game.
Photo: Getty Images
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