Giannis Antetokounmpo was named the All-Star game MVP on Sunday after shooting 16 of 16 for 35 points, even making all three of his attempts beyond the three-point stripe.
“I’m just having fun,” the Greek star said. “Sometimes when you’re having fun and not thinking about the outcome, you just let your instincts take over.”
Stephen Curry chipped in with 28 points, while Damian Lillard had 32. At one point Lillard pulled up for a three-pointer from the half-court line. Not to be outdone, Curry knocked down one from virtually the same spot.
“It was a lot of fun,” Lillard said. “Me and Steph shoot a lot of threes. We shoot deep threes. It was three, three, three, three.” Team LeBron beat Team Durant 170-150 on the night.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this All-Star Game was a one-night-only event, with a pair of skill competitions held shortly before the game and the Dunk Contest squeezed into the halftime break. The players flew in on Saturday afternoon and were largely confined to a nearby hotel except for their time on the court.
In the Dunk Contest, Anfernee Simons kissed good-bye the competition, nearly locking lips with the rim on a grand finale that was deemed good enough to edge Obi Toppin for the 2021 crown.
The 21-year-old from the Portland Trail Blazers shared the All-Star Game undercard spotlight with Curry, who needed to make his last shot to edge Mike Conley in the Three-Point Contest, and Domantas Sabonis, who won a battle of big men over Nikola Vucevic for the Skills Challenge crown.
After winning round one of the three-man competition with 95 points, one more than New York Knicks rookie Toppin, the two were allowed just one more dunk to determine the 2021 champion.
Toppin, who had dunked over his father, Obadiah, and teammate Julius Randle to eliminate Cassius Stanley in the first round, completed his finals dunk first, setting the stage for Simons to do better. He did, jumping high enough so that his puckered lips nearly came in contact with the rim as he slammed the ball through the hoop.
In a new scoring system, Simons was deemed to have performed the best dunk in the finals by three judges, while the other two opted for Toppin.
Curry joined Jason Kapono, Peja Stojakovic, Jeff Hornacek and Mark Price as two-time champs in the distance-shooting event. Craig Hodges and Larry Bird won three each.