Curry sets 3s record, LeBron the winner in NBA All-Star Game
Published 12:00 am Monday, February 21, 2022
CLEVELAND (AP) — Stephen Curry got another 3-point record. LeBron James got another All-Star win.
Not a bad night in Ohio for the two All-Stars from Akron.
Curry turned boos to oohs and aahs with the greatest long-distance shooting performance in All-Star Game history, then James made a turnaround jumper that gave Team LeBron a 163-160 victory over Team Durant on Sunday night.
Curry made 16 3-pointers and scored 50 points, two off Anthony Davis’ record. He was clearly hunting it, asking on the sideline during a sizzling third quarter how many points it would take.
“It’s pretty special, obviously being back in Ohio,” Curry said, seconds after being handed the inaugural Kobe Bryant MVP Trophy. “The trophy is very special. Very humble, very blessed.”
On a night both players were among the greats of the game who were honored during a halftime ceremony celebrating the NBA’s 75th anniversary team, Curry and James showed why they continue to stand out among today’s best.
Curry missed his final 3-point attempt that would have allowed him to surpass Davis. But with James’ team needing a basket to reach the target score of 163 points, they couldn’t afford to keep feeding Curry.
So James pulled up from deep on the right side for the winning bucket, making him 5-0 in the format where the leading vote-getters in each conference draft teams.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 30 points, and James finished with 24 in his old home. Joel Embiid led Team Durant with 36 points.
The All-Star Game’s return to Cleveland was expected to be James’ night. He is the Cavaliers franchise’s greatest player, having led them to their only NBA championship in 2016.
Instead, he was upstaged by Curry, who was born in the same Akron hospital three years later.
Curry finished 16 of 27 beyond the arc — sometimes well, well behind it. He launched a few from the All-Star 2022 logo near midcourt, running backward without even waiting to watch one go in.
The 3-point arc is slightly more than 23 feet away. Curry had made shots listed from 37, 33 and 34 feet during one stretch of the third quarter.
“This guy is from a different planet. He literally has an automatic sniper connected to his arm, and when he lets it go, not only himself, but everybody on the floor, in the stands, on TV, on their phones, whatever you are watching on, you think it’s going in every time,” James said. “Nine times out of 10 and sometimes 10 times out of 10, it does go in.”
To be out there and watch that kid from Akron as well shoot the ball the way he shot it, it was unbelievable,” James said. “It was pretty cool.”
Curry had been booed all weekend, smiling through the sounds during pregame introductions as Cleveland fans made clear they hadn’t forgiven him for helping Golden State beat the Cavaliers three times in the NBA Finals from 2015-18.
But the fans were enjoying his show too much to keep going as the game went on, though the boos returned when he was presented the MVP award that in 2020 was renamed in honor of Bryant, who won a record-tying four of them.
The trophy was redesigned this year and given to Curry in front of a crowd that included Bryant’s wife, Vanessa. Curry received 11 of the 12 votes for the award, with James earning the other through a fan vote.
It was a thrilling finish to an All-Star Game played again before a packed house after the 2021 game was contested in a mostly empty State Farm Arena in Atlanta, moved there because of the coronavirus pandemic after it was originally scheduled for Indianapolis.
The pregame introductions wrapped up with a thunderous roar for James, who responded with one of his own. His home fans cheered again when he did his signature pregame power toss and he came out aggressively with nine points to help Team LeBron win the first quarter 47-45.
Then it became the Curry show.
He made six 3s for 18 points in the second quarter, though Team Durant won the period. He made seven more 3s and scored 21 in the third, when the teams played to a 45-all tie.
James defeated Curry when they were captains in 2018, the first year after the NBA did away with the traditional East against West format. Then James beat Antetokounmpo in the next two years.
This time, he drafted both of the two-time NBA MVPs, along with Nikola Jokic, the reigning MVP. His team won for the second straight year against the club captained by Kevin Durant, who couldn’t play because of a sprained left knee ligament.
Chris Paul did play — briefly — despite a right thumb injury that TNT reported would keep him out at least six weeks. Paul played with a wrap covering his thumb during his two-minute stint.