LOS ANGELES — Team LeBron defeated Team Steph 148–145 in this year’s All-Star game, in what became a little bit of a thriller in the final minutes. In the first year of the NBA’s new draft format, Team LeBron overcame multiple first-half deficits to bring the 2018 All-Star Game within two at the midway point, and kept it close before James himself scored the go-ahead bucket with some help from … Kyrie, of course.
Here are The Crossover’s totally all-important, completely objective and analytical player grades for both teams.
LEBRON JAMES, Cavaliers
LeBron drafted a pretty good team on paper, and they actually kind of played defense, which was more than the Cavs had to say for the first few months of the season. Plus, he played well! It would have been sort of bad if LeBron didn’t lead Team LeBron in scoring. He clearly cared about putting on a show, with some threes, some beautiful assists, a number of highlight dunks and one Dirk-style fadeaway. It’s often par for the course when we write about LeBron playing well, but it was nonetheless enjoyable to watch.
The All-Star game is a nice reminder that the most difficult plays LeBron makes regularly are typically better than everyone else’s best. He was two assists short of a triple-double and deserved the MVP award (which he got).
KEVIN DURANT, Warriors
Only sort of living up to his billing as the top pick in the All-Star draft, KD sprinkled in the buckets here and there. He was Team LeBron’s third-leading scorer. His defense on DeMar DeRozan helped seal the game.
ANTHONY DAVIS, Pelicans
Davis came out wearing Cousins’s number zero jersey in a solid piece of early free-agent recruitment. He’s the perfect lob target, so he’s fun in All-Star games despite only playing 17 minutes. He was nice enough to allow Andre Drummond to start the second half, but finished as a -18.
RUSSELL WESTBROOK, Thunder
One of the night’s biggest surprises was that Russ didn’t even come out gunning as hard as he usually does in these things. He basically only shot threes and missed most of them, focusing on setting up teammates instead. But like, in the All-Star game, we really just want to see him dunk.
KYRIE IRVING, Celtics
Because of his handle, Kyrie is never not entertaining to watch. You half expected him to be in full Uncle Drew garb, and he really stepped up in the game’s final minutes. He assisted LeBron for a go-ahead bucket in the final minute of the game and led his team in dimes. Yay, friends!
We’ll go in alphabetical order for democratic purposes.
LAMARCUS ALDRIDGE, Spurs
He didn’t really do anything and only played four minutes.
BRADLEY BEAL, Wizards
Beal got pretty hot from outside, which is what he’s supposed to do in an All-Star game. The third quarter was kind of a heat check for him. It ended, but it was helpful if you operate under the assumption he wanted to win the game.
GORAN DRAGIC, Heat
Dragic only played 11 minutes, but it was his first All-Star game, he had family in from Slovenia and because he made it here, a select few got to hear Kevin Hart botch the pronunciation of “Slovenia” before the game. It wasn’t the only thing Kevin Hart screwed up. I have no strong feelings about Goran’s performance otherwise.
ANDRE DRUMMOND, Pistons
Drummond was seen on a couple occasions actually playing defense. He had some dunks and didn’t miss a shot, mostly because he was dunking in the All-Star game, but also had a couple of nice floaters. It looked like he cared. For an athletic big guy coming off the bench, what else can you ask for?
PAUL GEORGE, Thunder
It was a homecoming game for George, but not really an efficient one. He began to heat up late, but spent a lot of time blending in. He got outshined by DeMar DeRozan.
VICTOR OLADIPO, Pacers
Oladipo’s third-quarter steal and breakaway reverse dunk was cool, and I give the guy props for making the team with Paul George after being traded for…Paul George. That was really it.
Where was this last night, Vic? pic.twitter.com/O7C1VGIGLF
— The Crossover (@TheCrossover) February 19, 2018
KEMBA WALKER, Hornets
Kemba added some scoring punch and was a plus-7 in 14 minutes. He’s auditioning for next year’s game in Charlotte, assuming he doesn’t get traded.
THE LOS ANGELES NIGHTLIFE
Team LeBron shot 32.8 percent from three-point range, and far worse than that on jump shots, probably. The two teams combined to go 36–123 from outside.
The national anthem was … something. It was full of awkwardly jazzy vocal runs and uncouth embellishment. You don’t even have to have an opinion about the anthem to know that it was a bad rendition. You can’t spell Fergalicious without an F. But it did gift us the night’s best meme, in conjunction with a bemused Draymond Green.
From an unintentional humor standpoint, it was actually the peak of the night. But, we don’t grade on that scale here. We take this thing seriously.
- Jeremy Woo
STEPHEN CURRY, Warriors
Curry played like he spent too much time at the Brita party Saturday night. I need to see Steph pull up from way behind the three-point line when he plays in All-Star games. No more floaters. And what’s with the headband? It looked more like Steph’s cousin was playing in the first half.
DEMAR DEROZAN, Raptors
DeRozan scored often when he was on the court, flashing a nice two-man game with his Raptors teammate Kyle Lowry. You have to imagine DeRozan had a little extra pep in his step with SI’s Ben Golliver in attendance. (Ed. note: DeRozan did not have an extra pep in his step because of Ben Golliver.)
JAMES HARDEN, Rockets
Harden was inefficient and didn’t do any of his cool moves! Where were the dribble fakes? Why didn’t he lull any defenders to sleep? Harden was playing for his own coach and still ended with a game-worst minus-21. It was like Game 6 against the Spurs all over again.
GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO, Bucks
Giannis was one of the few players to try for a full 48 minutes. His jumper needs work if he’s truly going to dominate a game like this one, but he brought a youthful bounce to the proceedings.
JOEL EMBIID, 76ers
Embiid provided one of the best moments of the game when he hit a three over Russell Westbrook, then blocked Westbrook and stared him down on the very next possession. Like his fellow unicorn Giannis, Embiid was one of the few players to try for the entire night. He wasn’t afraid to shoot, but I was surprised he didn’t fool around more on the court. It was also fun as hell to see Embiid receive post touches against LeBron down the stretch.
JIMMY BUTLER, Timberwolves
Butler didn’t play Sunday night. He better hope Tom Thibodeau never coaches an All-Star game.
DRAYMOND GREEN, Warriors
Draymond provided the highlight of the night with his reaction to Fergie’s national anthem. He really didn’t do much else, but it doesn’t matter. Dray certified his legacy by failing to hide his emotions during the anthem, embodying the way the rest of us felt.
AL HORFORD, Celtics
I mean, sure, Al Horford played in this game. There’s really not much more to say than that.
DAMIAN LILLARD, Trail Blazers
Lillard played this game like Curry should have. Dame deserved to be on the court down the stretch, finishing with 21 points as his teammates closed out the game. Lillard wasn’t afraid to pull up from deep and I’m curious how hot he could’ve gotten with a little more playing time.
KYLE LOWRY, Raptors
I really liked the way Lowry played this game! He didn’t take any crazy shots, and he seemed happy to fulfill point guard duties and set up everyone else on the court. Every All-Star game needs a player like Lowry.
KLAY THOMPSON, Warriors
Klay was Klay and not much else, if that makes sense. He shot 10 threes and hit half of them. He looked like he was going through the motions, but he’s such a good shooter than he can still rip 50% shooting from three at half-speed.
KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS, Timberwolves
Towns was gunning! He looked like he was going for MVP in the first half, letting it fly from all over the court. Towns finished with a cool 17 points, 10 rebounds and—my favorite part—0 assists. I don’t recall if KAT ever shared the court with Giannis and Embiid, but I hope to see a lot more of that in the future.
- Rohan Nadkarni