LeBron James scored 29 points and hit the go-ahead layup with 34.5 seconds to play, winning his third All-Star Game MVP award while his hand-picked team rallied to defeat Team Stephen, 148-145, Sunday night.
For the first time in NBA All-Star game history, the league abandoned the traditional East-West format used since 1951 and allowed team captains LeBron James and Stephen Curry to choose their own rosters.
That twist turned a sometimes boring event into an exciting pickup game as the crowd at the Staples Center court was treated to a real basketball game.
Unlike past events, Team LeBron won the game with its defense. On the final possession, James, along with Kevin Durant, double-teamed Curry to prevent the 3-point-shooting star from getting off a potential tying shot.
“I think myself and Stephen took it upon ourselves when we took on this format that we had to change the way this game was played,” said James, who also had 10 rebounds and eight assists in the win.
Team Stephen looked well on its way to victory with a double-digit lead with just several minutes left in the game. Team LeBron used a big rally to tie the score at 144 as James hit a step-back 3-pointer with with 1:31 to play.
After a free throw by DeMar DeRozan to put Team Stephen up by one, LeBron claimed the lead with his layup followed by a steal and a layup by Russell Westbrook with 10.7 seconds left in the game.