CHICAGO (AP) - Kawhi Leonard scored 30, LeBron James scored 23 and Chicago product Anthony Davis finished with 20 points after hitting the winning free throw to lift Team LeBron to a 157-155 victory over Team Giannis in the NBA All-Star Game.
Leonard was named the first Kobe Bryant All-Star MVP and made eight 3-pointers to finish one shy of Paul George’s All-Star record in 2016. The league renamed the MVP trophy after Bryant on Saturday.
Davis missed the first attempt at the winning free throw, then sank it, after Kyle Lowry grabbed him as he attempted to catch a pass in the paint.
The two teams tied 41-all in the third quarter, after Team LeBron matched an All-Star scoring record while taking the first quarter 53-41. Team Giannis, led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, bounced back in the second 51-30.
The game’s format had been overhauled to put in elements for charity and ensure that someone was going to hit a shot to end the game. It was the closest All-Star Game since the Eastern Conference topped the Western Conference 141-139 in 2010.
Prior to the game, Hall of Famer Magic Johnson led a tribute to Bryant and Commissioner Emeritus David Stern. Johnson also led the crowd — which chanted “Kobe! Kobe!” — in an eight-second moment of silence, a nod to the number he wore the first half of his career.
Chicagoan Jennifer Hudson performed as images of Bryant flashed on a giant screen behind the stage. South Side product Common followed with a rap dedicated to the great players from the city as well as Bryant before leading the introductions of players.
Bryant cast a huge shadow over the events this weekend, just weeks after he and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among nine people killed when their helicopter crashed into the side of a mountain near Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles Lakers great was the youngest All-Star in league history, ranks second with 18 selections and took game MVP honors a record-tying four times.