Kevin Durant shouldn’t quit his day job. He’s better on the court than in the front office.
His team hardly stood a chance in Sunday night’s All-Star Game, losing big to Team LeBron, 170-150, in Atlanta. Of course, Durant’s team would’ve had a better shot had Durant been available and not resting his injured hamstring.
Team LeBron, which featured Steph Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard, won all four quarters and reached the target score on Lillard’s near-half-court bomb.
James mostly took it easy, scoring four points in 13 minutes. He didn’t need to exert himself. Antetokounmpo, the game’s MVP, was a perfect 16-for-16 from the field in scoring a game-high 35 points. Lillard had 32 and Curry 28.
Bradley Beal of the Wizards led Team Durant with 26 points and Kyrie Irving had 24 points and 12 assists. Nets teammate James Harden had 21 points off the bench. In his first All-Star Game, Knicks forward Julius Randle scored four points in 13 minutes.
Team LeBron dominated the first half, edging out Team Durant, 40-39, in the first quarter and dominating the second, 60-41. Curry and Antetokounmpo led the surge, combining for 46 points. Curry put on a shooting display, sinking six 3-pointers including one just a few steps inside half-court. Team LeBron took the third quarter, too, 46-45, and held a commanding 146-125 lead entering the deciding final quarter.
Prior to the game, several players questioned how much sense playing the game in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic made. And on Sunday morning, two players — Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons of the 76ers — were held out after they were contact traced to a barber who had tested positive for the virus, ESPN reported.
Embiid was set to be a starter on Team Durant while Simmons was a reserve for Team LeBron. Zion Williamson of the Pelicans replaced Embiid as a starter. Their status didn’t impact any other player, since everyone flew to Atlanta in private planes and quarantined upon arrival, at the league’s request to avoid the possibility of an outbreak.
The showcase raised at least $3 million in support of Historically Black Colleges and Universities through donations to scholarship funds, and celebrated the schools. The three officials, Tony Washington, Tony Brown and Courtney Kirkland, all are HBCU graduates and artists who attended HBCUs helped design the court. Gladys Knight, an alum of one of the nation’s oldest HBCUs in Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C., sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
The game was played in front of just 1,500 people. The crowd was socially distanced and masked, comprised of frontline workers, HBCU alums, students and faculty members, along with community partners.