SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Jayson Tatum put on a record show and made Giannis Antetokounmpo look like a genius.
Tatum scored an All-Star Game-record 55 points en route to winning MVP honors, and Team Giannis ended LeBron James’ hold on All-Star captain supremacy by beating Team LeBron 184-175. in the NBA’s annual Sunday night showcase exhibition.
Tatum had 27 points in the third quarter, another All-Star Game record for any period. He was Antetokounmpo’s first pick in the starting portion of the All-Star draft, and in the end, that pick proved to be the right one.
And the MVP award that Tatum received is named after Kobe Bryant, one of his heroes.
“It means the world,” Tatum said. “You think of all the legends and great players who have played this game, and honestly records are made to be broken. I’ll hold onto it as long as I can, but I’m sure someone will come along in a few years and try to break it.
Tatum broke Anthony Davis’ All-Star record of 52 points. He was 22 of 31 from the floor, plus had 10 rebounds and six assists.
It was James’ first defeat in six stints as captain. Antetokounmpo improved to 1–2 in his All-Star captaincy, becoming the first captain to hoist a new trophy given to the winners of the All-Star Game.
“Winner, winner, chicken dinner,” Antetokounmpo said.
Later, in a more serious tone, Antetokounmpo said he had a reason to choose Tatum.
“I knew he would take it seriously. It was a no-brainer,” he said.
Donovan Mitchell added 40 for Team Giannis, who got 26 points from Damian Lillard – including the game winner pushing his team past the target score.
Former Cal star Jaylen Brown scored 35 points and had 14 rebounds for Team LeBron, while Kyrie Irving had 32 points and 15 assists and Joel Embiid finished with 32 points.
Brown and Tatum—Boston teammates—enjoyed a back-and-forth duel for part of the second half.
“It was a normal day for us,” Tatum said. “Just watching millions of people.”
Lillard, the winner of the 3-point game on All-Star Saturday Night, made eight 3s—including a half-court pullup in the third quarter.
“That was the worst basketball game I’ve ever seen,” said Team LeBron coach Michael Malone, clearly mocking the defense option event.
Team Giannis winning coach Joe Mazzulla said he had a very simple strategy.
“Stay out of the way, enjoy it, have fun, just let the boys be themselves,” said Mazzulla. “I think it’s important, especially in this competition, that guys can just be themselves.”
The league had a ceremony before the second half to pay tribute to the top three scorers in NBA history: No. 3 Karl Malone, No. 2 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and James, now the game’s career leader having previously won this year Abdul-Jabbar had passed. month.
Malone and Abdul-Jabbar were brought to the podium, and then Dwyane Wade—James’ former Miami teammate and now co-owner of the Jazz—suggested that James bring him up on the podium.
“We’ve all been witnesses,” Wade said. “No matter the challenge, no matter the noise, he was relentless.”
With the number 38,388 behind him, James raised his hand to thank the fans for their ovation, hugged Abdul-Jabbar and Malone. He did not return to the game and his night ended with a bruise to his right hand.
He finished with 13 points and said a chase block in the first half led to him getting a finger in the rim.
“Precautionary reasons,” James said.
James played one half. The other captain of the game did not play half a minute.
Antetokoumpo lined up his team for the game, went through the warmups (as they were) and started the game as scheduled.
But his right wrist was wrapped, and that was an ominous sign. The injury ruled him out of the All-Star Saturday skill event, limiting him to 20 seconds in this event. He got an uncontested dunk to open the game, then took a foul and headed to the bench.
“Whatever I have, I’m going to give it,” Antetokounmpo said. “That’s who I am. That’s never going to change.”
As in previous years, the teams played for charity, with Team LeBron raising money for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah and Team Giannis for Raise the Future, which connects youth waiting in foster care with stable adults. Each team started with $150,000, with the first three quarters worth an additional $100,000 each and the All-Star Game winner getting an additional $150,000.
The teams tied at 46-46 in the first quarter and Team Giannis took the second quarter 53-46. Team Giannis also won the third quarter 59-49, and the cumulative score to that point – 158-141, Team Giannis – meant that 182 would be the score to be reached in the untimed fourth quarter with a final score.
Team Giannis won $550,000 for charity and Team LeBron won $200,000. And Tatum, just as he promised he would at his first All-Star Game in 2020 – when the award was named after Bryant – won the trophy he’s been chasing for some time.
“Christmas on the cake,” Tatum said.
Team Giannis: Antetokounmpo’s two points kept him the all-time All-Star scoring average leader. He now averages 25.1 points in All-Star Games, just ahead of Kevin Durant (25.0). Without that basket, he would average 24.9. … Jrue Holiday took Antetokounmpo’s place in the starting line-up for the second half.
Team LeBron: Denver’s Nikola Jokic, the two-time reigning MVP, became the first player to start an All-Star Game on his birthday; he turned 28 on Sunday. The only other player to appear in an All-Star Game on his birthday, the NBA said, was Larry Nance Sr. in 1989. … The break lasted 42 minutes. … Paul George started in place of James for the second half.