If you were disappointed with Saturday night’s dud dunk contest, the actual All-Star game more than made up for it on Sunday. Stephen Curry made an all-time show with an All-Star Game record of 16 3-goals on his way to 50 points, and earned his first Kobe Bryant All-Star Game MVP award as Team LeBron—on the strength of a LeBron James walking sweater—Durant’s team scooped 163 -160 at the end of the wild Elam Endding.
Here are three takeaways from a great night in Cleveland.
1. Steve goes nuclear
Even in a game where no one was playing defensively for the first three quarters, watching Curry as hot as he did was nothing short of exciting to jump out of your seat. As we mentioned the man’s exchange 16 – sixteen! – 3 shots, breaking the previous record of 9 shots held by Paul George (2016).
If you add the distance in these shots, you could end up in Akron, where both Carrie and LeBron were born. Cleveland isn’t too fond of Curry having won three titles at the expense of the Cavs, but no one can deny the energy jolt of watching Curry go crazy. Curry isn’t usually at his best at the All-Star Games, and it’s been a tough shooting season for him so far, but he’s been hot right from the start on Sunday.
“Steve, I mean, come on, man,” LeBron James said after the match. “This guy’s from a different planet.” “He literally has a robot sniper attached to his arm, and when he leaves it, not just himself but everyone on the floor, in the stands, on TV, on their phones, whatever you’re watching, you think it’s going to happen every time. And nine times out of 10, sometimes 10. Times out of 10, you actually go in. So, to be there and watch that kid from Akron shoot the way he did, it was unbelievable. It was amazing.”
2. LeBron Channels Inside Jordan
Not having a great night of shooting, LeBron missed nine of his 11 three-pointers and finished the game with less than 50 percent of the field despite a combination of uncontested hits and dunks, but he finished it just the right way with a ridiculously difficult fade to seal the win for his team.
Where have we seen that shot before? This is very similar to Michael Jordan. That wasn’t lost on LeBron, who spoke at length after the game about Jordan’s impact on him as a young kid and eventually as an NBA player.
“It’s crazy that tonight’s game-winning shot was so dull, and it was so inspired by MJ,” LeBron said.
A quick context reminder about the winner of the LeBron game. Elam Ending plays on the target score rather than running the clock in the fourth quarter.
The target score is calculated by adding 24 points to the total of the team that advances after three quarters. That number came to 163. LeBron hit him with a fade
And can we talk about the difficulty of that shot? It might have sounded like a shot of MJ, and the late great Kobe Bryant for that matter, but usually these guys strutted from closer to the elbow or along the baseline. That was about 20 feet with every ounce of his momentum falling away from the basket. The force required to get that shot to the edge, let alone make it, is terrifying.
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3. Ja Morante City for the People
I can’t believe I’m going to mention Saturday night’s horrific immersion contest for the second time when I promised myself I’d never talk about it again, but this thing is so smelly. The only way the NBA can make up for it next year? Enter Ja Morant!
This guy is a total stranger to a dunker, a mix of vertical blasting, easy athleticism and sheer finishing power that I’m not sure we’ve seen before. Derek Rose in his prime comes to mind, but I think Morant is on another level.
First, he threw a reverse alley after he came close to bumping the back of his head onto a ledge.
He then finished 360 Alley courtesy of Trae Young’s 40-foot lob.
They both likely win the Saturday night contest. And they were in a game. Give this guy an open runway and some time to plan the competition he’s dunking and he’ll take us back to the glory days of LaVine-Gordon/Jordan-Dominique/Vince Carter.
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