NBA All-Star weekend takeaways: Lots of points, lots of winners in Indy

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — NBA All-Star weekend in Indianapolis had plenty of winners.

There was Damian Lillard, a 3-point shootout winner Saturday and the All-Star Game MVP on Sunday — a two-trophy weekend the likes of which only Michael Jordan pulled off previously. There were Stephen Curry and Sabrina Ionescu,who made their 1-on-1 shooting contest into must-see-TV. There was Karl-Anthony Towns, the fourth player to score at least 50 in an All-Star Game.

And there are the people tasked with updating the NBA’s All-Star record book. They’ll be busy for a while after the Eastern Conference’s 211-186 victory over the Western Conference on Sunday night in the highest-scoring All-Star Game.

The league goes quiet now, at least in terms of games, until Thursday. Everyone gets a break until then, and for those who were part of the shows in Indianapolis this weekend, it’s needed.

Some takeaways from Indianapolis:

ALL THOSE POINTS

Scoring 186 points is something that only two teams in the history of the All-Star Game had done before Sunday night.

The West scored 186 — and lost by 25. Hard to say anyone would have seen that coming.

Here’s just some of the records: Most points by one team (211), most points by both teams (397), most points in a half by one team (the East tied it with 104 in the first half, then broke it with 107 in the second half), most 3-pointers by one team (42), most 3-point attempts by one team (97), most 3-pointers by both teams (67), most 3-point attempts by both teams (168), most field goals by both teams (163), most field goal attempts by both teams (289), and most assists by one team (the West had 60 to tie the record).

“Usually our preparation to get ready to compete, it looks a lot different than it looks when we come here,” Lillard said. “This weekend was a lot better than the past, but I think when the game is any type of loose, if it’s not a game where you’ve got a scouting report and you’re locked in and a lot is on the line, then guys who are too talented and are going to make a lot of 3s. That’s the kind of game it’s going to be.”

STEPH VS. SABRINA

For many, what happened Saturday night — Curry beating Ionescu — will be the highlight of All-Star weekend. Television ratings for All-Star Saturday were up by a huge margin and that would seem to indicate that adding the Steph vs. Sabrina matchup captivated tons of people who simply didn’t care enough to watch last year.

Curry beat the New York Liberty star and reigning WNBA 3-point queen 29-26 in their head-to-head 3-point matchup.

“I think it’s going to show a lot of young kids out there, a lot of people who might have not believed or even watched women’s sports, that we’re able to go out there and put on a show,” Ionescu said. “So, it was really exciting to finally be able to do this.”

With next season’s All-Star Game in San Francisco — where Curry plays and the area where Ionescu is from — they are likely to part of Saturday night again. They’re already talking about a team matchup and adding partners; it might be even more cool if Curry and Ionescu team up to take on another NBA-WNBA pair. Stay tuned.

DAME TIME

It hasn’t been an easy first season for Lillard in Milwaukee. The Bucks haven’t kicked into high gear, have had three coaches already – Adrian Griffin for 43 games, then Joe Prunty as an interim and now Doc Rivers – and there have been times where Milwaukee doesn’t look like a team that can stop anybody.

But this weekend could put some serious spring in their step.

Lillard successfully defending his 3-point shootout title is a reminder of how clutch he is, and he followed that up with an array of 3s in the All-Star Game from some serious distance on his way to MVP honors.

“We’ve been teammates for 50 games, so four, five months,” Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo said. “Now, as I said, game by game, day by day, we’re getting closer, chemistry is getting better. Hopefully we can get to a place that we can lead the other guys to the goal that we’ve set in the beginning of the year.”

HALIBURTON’S YEAR

Make no mistake: Tyrese Haliburton is absolutely the face of the Pacers, and quite possibly for basketball in basketball-crazed Indiana.

He was a perfect host for the league’s showcase weekend, from showing up in an Indy car to the kickoff party, to happily doing roughly a billion interviews over four days, and then making five 3-pointers in a 1:32 span during the All-Star Game.

If healthy, he should be on the Olympic team this summer — and probably the 2028 team as well. And he could make the Pacers a serious threat in an Eastern Conference that has Boston running away as the favorite and then a slew of other teams trying to figure things out or hoping to get healthy.

“His teammates love him. Fans love him. I’m excited to watch his career going forward because I know he’s going to do some incredible things here in Indiana,” Phoenix forward Kevin Durant said. “But just for the game of basketball as a whole, you can tell he’s one of those point guards that the next generation, kids in elementary school, middle school kids will be looking up to.”

A FIRST

The All-Star Game was the first one in NBA history where every player on both teams had at least one rebound and one assist.

On stat night, that sort of made sense.

“I just wanted to cherish this moment and make the most of it,” said Towns, who joined Jayson Tatum (55 in 2023), Anthony Davis (52 in 2017) and Stephen Curry (50 in 2022) as the only players to score 50 in an All-Star Game.

___

AP

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