NBA Daily Rundown: Giannis Antetokounmpo Tallies Perfect Night To Nab All-Star Game MVP Honors
Giannis dominates as Team LeBron wins
Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo came up with a literally perfect shooting display during the Team LeBron’s 170-150 lopsided victory over Team Durant in the 2021 NBA All-Star Game.
Giannis, the reigning back to back regular season Most Valuable Player, tallied 35 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and 1 block in the win. On top of that, he produced a perfect 16-16 overall clip from the field, establishing himself as the first player to come up with an unblemished shooting display while putting up a minimum of ten attempts.
It was an incredible effort for the Greek Freak, who also had the most shots made during the 2019 and the 2020 All-Star games. He made 17 shots on his way to 38 points in 2019, then followed it up with 12 made attempts on a 25-point performance in 2020.
As per Tim Bontemps of ESPN, Giannis emphasized that he was just out there having fun and not shooting for the MVP award. The Bucks star also reiterated that the defense of Team Durant was mostly focused on Dame Lillard, Steph Curry and Chris Paul, so he just took advantage of what the defenders gave him.
"It actually wasn't," he said. "I was just trying to just play. When you're around guys like [Damian Lillard] and [Stephen Curry] and Chris Paul, it's just easy. Nobody is worrying about me. I'm just playing one-on-one, nobody is double-teaming. If you feel good, then I feel good that it will be good. I just get up and have fun and just try to get as many shots as I can.
Obviously, I'm extremely happy at just having the award with the name of Kobe Bryant in my house," he said. "It's a great feeling. I wanted to win the one last year really bad, and I had a chance to win because I felt like I wanted to have the trophy in my house. But this year, I wasn't even thinking about winning it; I was just thinking about having fun, and I had the opportunity to play well. My team played great, and I was able to just win it. And to have the trophy with the name of Kobe Bryant, it's amazing, and I know he would be happy. Yeah, I know he'd be happy."
Giannis may have brought home the MVP trophy, but that does not mean that his other teammates did not stand a chance of winning the award. Lillard and Jaylen Brown both came off the bench to tally 32 and 22 points, respectively. Curry, who missed an All-Star appearance last season as he was injured for the most part of the year, returned to the festivities and put up an all-around stat line of 28 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals.
But one of the most overlooked performances last night was Chris Paul’s brilliant playmaking off the bench. The Phoenix Suns veteran star point guard totalled 16 assists, tying his previous All-Star career-high which he set in 2016.
What’s more important in Paul’s performance in the 2021 NBA All-Star Game was that he finally passed the legendary Magic Johnson for the most All-Star career assists in the all-time leader board. That is definitely a big achievement, especially for Paul who is already turning 36 years of age this May.
As per Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, Paul said that having his family present in the game made the night even more special for him. The 11-time All-Star point guard also took the time to give a shout-out to the late great Kobe Bryant, who inspired him to always have that winning mentality every single time that he steps on to a basketball court.
“The way I knew how many assists I needed to break (the record) was my son,” Paul said. “My son came up to me at halftime and said, ‘Dad, you need four more assists.’ To have him, my dad, my brother, my nephew here for it makes it that much more special. My dad is the man who introduced me to the game, the man who taught me how to be a man, the man who taught me discipline. For him to be here to see it, don’t get no better than that.
Shoutout to my brother, the late Kobe Bryant,” Paul said. “I only know one way to play, and that’s to win. We kept talking about it over there. It’s a game, everybody want to stay healthy, but we want to win.”
Paul, who is on his first year with the Suns, is currently putting up excellent numbers of 16.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 8.8 assists and 1.2 steals per game, including an above-average 39% clip from the three point line.
LeBron plays only 13 minutes in 2021 NBA All-Star Game
One of the biggest surprises in the festivities was that Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James only played a measly total of 13 minutes in the game. The four-time NBA MVP was voted as the captain of his own All-Star team, and assembled a solid starting five that included Giannis Antetokounmpo, Steph Curry, Luka Doncic and Nikola Jokic.
James also said that he did not have any problems of letting his teammates take over in the second half. The Lakers superstar reiterated that he also wants to take all the time that he has to really rest his body and recharge himself before he leads the defending champs to the second half push towards the more important games in the playoffs. (as per Tim Bontemps of ESPN)
James, who hadn't scored fewer than 13 points in any of his prior 16 All- Star appearances, had only four points on 2-for-7 shooting -- including whiffing on two wide-open layups -- in 13 minutes. James said after the game he would be taking advantage of every second he had to recover before the Lakers open the second half of their season.
"I hope so," James said, when asked if he had enough time to recover. "Is it enough time? I'll take any time, obviously. So, I'll take full advantage of the time that we have. Is it enough time? No, it's never enough time, but we're not on the side of time. I'm not on the side of time. I'll take full advantage of what I have and be OK with it."
With that said, Team LeBron was still able to put on quite a show. Curry and Lillard took turns in delivering half-court heaves that saw the bottom of the net almost every time. Curry’s presence on the floor was really some sort of a contagious fun for all of his teammates.
Aside from shooting the lights out especially in the first half, there was also one point when the three-time champ caught a lob then followed it up with a dunk. The 32-year old former MVP was definitely having fun out there, and you could see it from his wide smiles and light demeanor the whole game.
Curry missed the All-Star festivities last season as he sat out a lot of games due to a major injury he sustained. The Warriors superstar said that the All-Star Game is still fun as it is, but the absence of the courtside fans was definitely the missing piece.
"[The game] felt the same," Curry said. "The only thing is you can't really see the crowd in normal years, outside the courtside rows, but the energy is definitely louder, more engaged with more people.
But the only thing that was really missing was the courtside kind of vibe. The who's who sitting down there, and just the energy down on the court. I remember watching it last year in Chicago, and that was half the fun of the new format, the ending, was everyone who was courtside or in the lower part of the stands just all locked in and engaged in the game, and there's some dope photos of that. That's the biggest piece that was missing."
Curry, now a seven-time All-Star, is currently putting up 29.7 points, 5.5 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.3 steals per game this season, including a stellar 41% overall clip from the three-point line.