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NBA All-Star Game 2021: Giannis Wins MVP as Team LeBron Beats Team Durant

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMarch 8, 2021

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo celebrates with Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic during the first half of basketball's NBA All-Star Game in Atlanta, Sunday, March 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

LeBron James' All-Star Game dynasty as a general manager and player continued for another year. 

Team LeBron defeated Team Durant 170-150 in Sunday's 2021 NBA All-Star Game at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. Damian Lillard proved Dame Time carries over to the All-Star Game and pulled up from half court to drain the winning basket with the target-score finish, which turned off the clock for the fourth quarter and created a situation in which the two teams played until one reached the winning point total.

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DAME WINS IT FOR TEAM LEBRON 🚨 https://t.co/Qx7DS6lCC8

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Steph knew it was over 💀 He started waving goodbye before Dame pulled up from half court https://t.co/T8cisFf57F

Lillard hit the winning shot, but Giannis Antetokounmpo won MVP with 35 points, seven rebounds and three assists on a perfect 16-of-16 shooting from the field. Lillard threatened for the award as well with 32 points, while Curry added 28 points behind 8-of-16 shooting from deep.

Bradley Beal led Team Durant in scoring with 26 points.

It was more of the same for Team LeBron, which also beat the team Stephen Curry drafted in 2018 and the teams Antetokounmpo drafted in 2019 and 2020.

That All-Star Game history for Team LeBron wasn't the only reason James' side was expected to set the tone right out of the gates. He also surrounded himself with a starting lineup of Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic, Curry and Nikola Jokic, which inspired Giannis to tell reporters "Yeah, it's over guys" before the game even started.

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It also didn't help Team Durant that the NBA announced Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons were out for the game because of contact tracing.

While Simmons was on Team LeBron, Embiid was a starter for Team Durant. KD was also sidelined, so the roster was down arguably its top two players before tip-off. A quick start was also important because the winner of each quarter received $150,000 for a company that helps provide scholarships to historically Black colleges and universities.

Team LeBron played for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, while Team Durant played for the United Negro College Fund. The winning team earned $300,000, while each organization received an initial $500,000 contribution.

The cumulative score also mattered because the clock was turned off at the start of the fourth quarter to create the target score of 170, which was 24 more than Team LeBron's total after three quarters in honor of Kobe Bryant.

Turns out, Giannis was right. His team won every quarter before the target score was set and cruised to victory.

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This no-look from Steph 😱 https://t.co/Oke8HFp2re

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LEBRON REVERSE DUNK. https://t.co/DjqhPNZxre

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STEPH IS STILL FEELING IT 🤯 🤯 https://t.co/ilai0rPfzq

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STEPH FROM DEEEEP 🚨 https://t.co/wn8LMKqGGH

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Tatum lob to Zion 👀 https://t.co/GimhkLGVjc

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Team LeBron just having fun with it 🔥 https://t.co/5CS0VKEWLS

Team LeBron won the first period 40-39 thanks largely to Curry. The two-time MVP put on an absolute show with a no-look pass to Jokic and four three-pointers, one of which was from nearly half court and another of which was still in the air when he turned his back to the hoop.

There was also the usual display of gravity-defying dunks with Antetokounmpo bullying his way to the hoop, LeBron throwing down a reverse jam and Zion Williamson flushing down a lob, although Zion missed more dunks than he made in the first quarter.

Team LeBron was far more dominant in the second quarter with a 60-41 win that featured a James tomahawk slam, Antetokounmpo pouring in the points, Curry hitting another three from nearly half court, Logo Lillard doing the same and a run of dunks from guards with Curry, Chris Paul, Doncic and Lillard all throwing them down.

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CP3 wins the jump ball 😂 https://t.co/HlHxSFrDMt

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STEPH IS UNFAIR https://t.co/RSGFVdxUDp

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LEBRON 🔨 https://t.co/3RRnXqR3x0

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STEPH IS PUTTING ON A SHOW 😳 https://t.co/lkD4C1PNEw

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Giannis was feeling himself after making the 3 😅 https://t.co/sb4EHLF6Ls

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DAME AND STEPH FROM HALF COURT. This is wild. https://t.co/UnHphdX86g

The little guys did more than just dunk as Paul defeated Mike Conley in an amusing jump ball to kickstart the period.

Game-like intensity made an appearance in the third quarter with both sides going back-and-forth even as Giannis banked in a three to go 16-of-16 from the field. Bradley Beal, Kyrie Irving and James Harden countered for Team Durant to keep it close.

However, Lillard and Paul George hit clutch threes in crunch time to preserve the 46-45 win and yet another quarter victory for Team LeBron.

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GIANNIS IS SHOOTING 16-16 FROM THE FIELD 🤯 https://t.co/ivynKNVQs7

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Kyrie got UP 🤭 https://t.co/UDBJKi6UI0

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LeBron watching Giannis go 16-16 from the field #NBAAllStar https://t.co/uJjpmVP38o

The only real drama remaining for the fourth quarter was whether Antetokounmpo would miss a shot as Team LeBron moved closer to the target score with a four-point play from Jaylen Brown, another triple from Curry and back-to-back threes from Lillard even before his half-court heave to win it.

Team Durant dialed up the defensive pressure at times, but it was staring at far too big a hole to climb out of when the target score was set.

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