|Kevin Durant takes home the All-Star Game MVP award. Bob Donnan/USA Today|
By Ivan Saldajeno
MAKATI — Team LeBron pulled off a huge second half rally to defeat Team Giannis, 178-164, in the 2019 NBA All-Star Game at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte on Monday (Philippine Time).
The roster led by LeBron James prevailed over Giannis Antetokounmpo’s squad after coming alive from downtown.
Antetokounmpo took over late in the first quarter as he scored or assisted on most of his team’s shots to open a 53-37 lead at the end of the period.
Team Giannis kept the double-digit spread in the second quarter and even stretched it to 20 points, 109-89, early in the third.
However, Team LeBron dropped nine triples in succession before Ben Simmons scored a hook shot to go up, 132-131, to end the quarter.
After an exchange of baskets to start the fourth, Team Giannis went on a 9-2 run capped by a four-point play from Steph Curry to take a 145-139 lead with 9:18 to go.
Team LeBron caught fire again from deep as it scored four straight treys, the last two from Kawhi Leonard, before Karl-Anthony Towns and Bradley Beal made inside baskets to reclaim the lead, 155-153, with 6:43 left.
Kevin Durant then made back-to-back three-pointers of his own to increase his team’s lead to eight, 161-153, with 5:18 to play.
Antetokounmpo kept his team in the game by scoring five straight points to cut the lead to three, 161-158, with 4:32 left.
But Team LeBron answered with an 17-4 run to pull away for good.
Durant finished with 31 points on 10-of-15 shooting, seven rebounds, two assists, one steal, and two blocks for Team LeBron en route to All-Star Game Most Valuable Player honors.
Klay Thompson added 20 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and one steal off the bench.
James and Leonard each contributed 19 markers.
In his All-Star Game debut, Simmons went a perfect 5-for-5 from the field for 10 points along with six rebounds, seven assists, and one steal off the bench.
Antetokounmpo put up 38 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, and one steal to lead Team Giannis, while Joel Embiid had his own double-double with 12 rebounds and 10 points alongside one assist, one block, and one steal.
Paul George chipped in 20 points, two rebounds, four assists, and three steals.
In what could be their final All-Star appearance, Dwyane Wade made seven points, two rebounds, and four assists for Team LeBron, while Dirk Nowitzki made nine points on a perfect 3-for-3 from beyond the arc for Team Giannis.
Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno