NBA fans couldn’t have been more surprised to witness a game of basketball break out during All-Star weekend.
After years of high-scoring, uncompetitive spectacles with little to no defence being played, the league decided to shake up the format for the 2020 game.
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Announced earlier in the year, to some mockery from fans, the new format resulted in an intense fourth quarter.
Both teams ratcheted up the intensity in the final frame. Tough defence abounded - in typical fashion, Toronto Raptors star Kyle Lowry was attempting to take charges and players from both Team LeBron and Team Giannis were playing like it was game seven in the playoffs.
The new format saw the scores reset after the first three quarters. Then, before the fourth, the scores from the first three quarters are added together. A target of the leading team’s score, plus 24 (to honour Kobe Bryant) will win the game.
In this year’s game, a winning score of 157 was required, after Team Giannis lead 133-124 after three quarters.
It was Team LeBron who dominated the final quarter though, led by LA Clippers star Kawhi Leonard, who won the Kobe Bryant All-Star MVP.
Fans were loving the new format, which gave the game new life after a fairly flat first three quarters.
I really can’t believe how well the new format worked. That was so much fun to watch. That was exactly the kind of game everyone was hoping for (minus the ending on a free throw part). Hopefully this kind of effort isn’t a one-off example.— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) February 17, 2020
A basketball game breaking out was what this weekend really, really needed— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) February 17, 2020
I don’t mind that it ended on a free throw because DID YOU SEE THE REST OF IT???— Charlotte Wilder (@TheWilderThings) February 17, 2020
The NBA produced an all-star game that was legit best-on-best, which no league has done in my lifetime. Fabulous.— Bruce Arthur (@bruce_arthur) February 17, 2020
Ok that ASG was awesome. Super fun with the target score and kudos to the players for giving it a real go in the 4th.— Michael Dunlap (@DunlapSports) February 17, 2020
The only major complaint was about the ending of the game - Anthony Davis reached the required total with a free throw, and ending some felt was anti-climactic.
Leonard top-scored with 30 points, while Davis (20pts) and LeBron James (23pts) led the way for the victors.
Giannis Antetokounmpo top-scored for his team with 25 points, while Joel Embiid and Kemba Walker also filled it up.