CHICAGO — It was a dramatic, pressure-packed free throw because the game had become next basket wins.
It was still just a free throw.
Team LeBron won the best All-Star Game in recent memory, one with a target point score — which ended up being 157 — on an Anthony Davis free throw. He had two shots, missed the first, and then, with the pressure mounting, drained it.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) February 17, 2020
Davis was at the line because Kyle Lowry pulled him to the ground as Davis cut across the lane to get a pass from LeBron James, which likely would have led to a game-winning layup. Lowry made the smart play not to let Davis have the easy bucket, then coach Nick Nurse tried to challenge the call (a smart tactical move, but it was a foul).
It was still dramatic, but a game that intense seemed to deserve more than a free throw ending.
“It doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, you can win a Finals game at the free-throw line,” LeBron said. “There’s a lot of things that happen on the playground that you can’t do in our game too, where you can literally foul every single time and not get disqualified. I’ve been in games where you’ve won games at the free-throw line, and that’s all part of the game.”
There were calls on NBA Twitter to put in a rule that says “the game can’t end on a free throw.” The problem with that is it incentivizes fouling — my team is going to foul every time a guy goes for a game-winning shot. Maybe non-shooting fouls aren’t rewarded with free throws? It’s not a simple answer, but there may be a workaround.
The intensity of that play and the end of the game — which had Lowry drawing charges, Chris Paul and others arguing calls, bodies flying around the floor, and genuine passion and competitiveness — was part of the success of the NBA’s new format. It was the big winner of the night.
Even if the game ended with free throws.