Any player representing the host team at the NBA’s All-Star Weekend must suffer through a busy few days. The hosting star must attend various parties, do more than the usual round of interviews, and generally keep social at all times. In a way, the game is a break from all the trouble, a chance to have some fun and maybe even rest on the bench for the majority of its 48 minutes.
New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis most definitely did not take it easy in Sunday’s main event, a 192-182 win for the West over the East. The 23-year-old star looked to thrill in his third All-Star Game as an active player, scoring a ridiculous 52 points (26-of-39 FG) in a game-high 32 minutes of action. In the process, Davis broke Wilt Chamberlain’s 55-year-old single-game All-Star scoring record of 42 points, set for the East in a 20-point loss to the West in 1962. Davis’s record-setting bucket came on this alley-oop from Russell Westbrook in the final few minutes:
Davis did not have to fight through much defensive resistance to make history. In keeping with recent trends, the 2017 All-Star Game saw both sides allow open shots and clear lanes for dunks on nearly every possession. Moments of intensity and competitive fire were rare, and missed shots had more to do with players going for style points than with close-outs or proper defensive positioning. Davis got many of his late buckets merely by running the floor and finishing passes from willing West teammates.
“When I came out in the third quarter and had 32, I told the guys I wanted to get 50, and Russell Westbrook told me the record was 42, so I just started getting lobs,” he said to TNT’s Ernie Johnson after accepting the MVP trophy. “And then at the end, they were just trying to get me 50, which was very fun.”
It was indeed very fun. While the All-Star Game didn’t feature much drama, it remained a cool way to spend time for any fans of alley-oops and off-the-backboard dunks. It was also cool to see Davis come home with MVP honors in front of his home crowd, becoming the first player to do so since Los Angeles Lakers icon Kobe Bryant did it at Staples Center in 2011.
In all, the weekend was a big success for Davis and New Orleans. And that was the case even before they traded for fellow West All-Star DeMarcus Cousins.
It looked for a while as if Davis would have company in the history books. Two-time All-Star MVP Russell Westbrook put up 41 points (16-of-26 FG, 7-of-13 3FG) before subbing out for the final 5:33 of the fourth quarter, although it initially looked like he was the one to break Chamberlain’s record first. James Harden tried to find him with a 40-foot alley-oop pass, but he missed badly enough to make a long-range three-pointer instead.
Westbrook didn’t press the issue and settled for becoming the only player to score 40 points in multiple All-Star Games. However, the story of his night was the first-half alley-oop connection with ex-teammate and current foe Kevin Durant, which provided some closure to the biggest story of All-Star Weekend (before the Cousins trade, at least).
Davis and Westbrook put up the most overwhelming stat lines of the night, but they had plenty of company. Six others scored at least 20 points as the teams combined for 374 total points, five points better than the previous record of 369 set last year. That record was itself 48 points more than the previous record set in 2015, which means we’re probably only a matter of time away from another record and 200 points from one or both teams.
What that meant, for the most part, is that lots of players got the opportunity to complete full dunks. First-time East All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo put on the best aerial show on Sunday on his way to an East-high 30 points on 14-of-17 shooting. The Bucks’ do-everything star was one of the most consistently entertaining players in the game, especially when he devastated Stephen Curry with a series of poster dunks. Antetokounmpo’s fantastic showing had much of the crowd hoping he returns in future seasons. Maybe Marv Albert will learn how to pronounce his name for next year, too:
— Deadspin (@Deadspin) February 20, 2017
The Greek Freak was perhaps the defining player of this All-Star Game. All the fun to be had came via highlights and brief moments in which players let loose. The lack of defense meant that the score stayed close for most of the runtime, but the West opened up a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter that ensured we would not see a competitive final few minutes.
It’s up to each individual viewer to decide if that lack of competitive basketball is a dealbreaker. For many (including me), it’s enough to watch extremely talented players try to put on a show for 48 minutes — with a few musical performances thrown in, too. It’s hard to say that makes the All-Star Game a must-watch, but an exhibition can only handle so much drama. Sometimes, pure dumb fun is enough.
More on Yahoo Sports:
• DeMarcus Cousins walks off All-Star court not knowing he’d been traded
• Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant briefly renew their friendship
• Watch Florida State QB Deondre Francois chuck a football over a frat house
• Lonzo Ball’s dad keeps saying ridiculous things
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