By Satuk Bugra Kutlugun
ANKARA (AA) - Team LeBron came back to beat Team Giannis 157-155 in a revamped format of the 69th All-Star game in Chicago's United Center on Sunday night, as Kawhi Leonard took home the first-ever Kobe Bryant MVP award.
In the changed format of the All-Star match to honor late legend Kobe Bryant, teams competed hard in the final period of the game to reach magic number 157, as LeBron James' team came back from 133-124 down to beat Giannis Antetokounmpo's team.
All-Star players took charges, bodies hit the floor, an intense defense played in the final frame as it came down to the final shot several times.
Davis, being fouled inside the painted area, had a chance to deliver the win for his team as he missed the first free-throw but hit the second to finish the star-studded weekend.
Kawhi Leonard, scoring 30 points, including hitting 8 three-point shots throughout the match, was awarded the Kobe Bryant MVP award.
The league, changing the format of the match, allowed the teams to donate to charity after the end of each quarter, and made sure that the final frame has a target score, adding 24 points to the third quarter leading team's score (133, Team Giannis) to honor late legend Bryant.
Teams competed with only two jersey numbers on their uniform, every member of the Team Giannis wore No. 24 for Kobe Bryant, while team LeBron wore No. 2 for Gianna Bryant, Kobe's 13-year-old daughter who also lost his life along with seven others in the Jan. 26 helicopter crash. The uniforms also had nine stars with a black circular patch, to honor every victim of the crash.
After the game, LeBron James, in the post-game press conference, said: “It’s a beautiful day and his presence was felt here in Chicago.”
Leading his team, Antetokounmpo scored 25 points and pulled down 11 rebounds, while Kemba Walker scored 23, Joel Embiid scored 22 and Rudy Gobert played with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
For the winning side, Leonard was the top scorer with 30, Chris Paul and LeBron James both had 23, Anthony Davis got 20 and James Harden chipped in 11 of his own.
There were a total of 10 first-time All-Stars: Luka Doncic, Trae Young, Pascal Siakam, Domantas Sabonis, Jayson Tatum, Brandon Ingram, Devin Booker, Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, and Bam Adebayo.
Here are the quarter-by-quarter results of the game:
Final: Team LeBron 157, Team Giannis 155
Kia NBA All-Star Game Kobe Bryant MVP Award: Kawhi Leonard
4th quarter target score: 157; Anthony Davis with clinching free throw
3rd quarter: Ends tied 41-41
2nd quarter: Team Giannis wins 51-30
1st quarter: Team LeBron wins 53-41