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Wizards guard Bradley Beal scores 26 in first All-Star start

Team LeBron wins 170-150.

2021 NBA All-Star Game
Washington Wizards All-Star guard Bradley Beal.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

In a shocking development no one could have predicted, the All-Star game was full of offensive pyrotechnics. Team LeBron won 170-150, and Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo took MVP honors by scoring 35 points in 19 minutes and shooting 16-16 from the floor.

Wizards guard Bradley Beal, making his first All-Star start had a nice game — 26 points on 16 shots, including 6-12 from three-point range. Washington is surely hoping the 50% shooting from long range is a harbinger of what Beal does post-All-Star break.

Overall, Beal joined Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum as Team Durant’s top performers.

Due to the pandemic-compressed season, the NBA stuffed all of the All-Star weekend action into a single night. The format worked well — the action was non-stop but never felt frenetic.

Indiana Pacers big man Domantas Sabonis began the festivities by defeating Orlando Magic big Nikola Vucevic in the NBA’s Skills Challenge.

In the Three-Point Contest, Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry needed to make his last two shots, one of which was the two-point “money ball,” to emerge victorious. He hit both to take his second Three-Point Contest title.

The dunk contest was held at half-time. Pacers guard Cassius Stanley had the best dunk in the first round but received the lowest score from judges. He botched his second dunk and was eliminated. Portland Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons took home the trophy with a “kiss the rim” slam (he didn’t actually kiss the rim) that showed off his impressive leaping ability.

Long-range shooting was a theme tonight. The teams combined to shoot 58-135 (43.0%) from three-point range. Curry and Lillard, who have a friendly rivalry over who’s the best extreme range shooter put on a show. Curry hit a couple from the T in the “All-Star” painted on the floor. Lillard knocked down a half-court jumper near the end of the second quarter. On the next possession, Curry answered back with a half-court jumper of his own.

Fittingly, the game came to an end with Lillard hitting from half-court a second time.

I’ve always been a sucker for All-Star games. I love those moments like when someone driving to the basket kicks the ball to the wide-open guy in the corner, who happens to be Stephen Curry.

Or when LeBron throws a bounce lob to Rudy Gobert for a dunk.

Or when Chris Paul throws a lob for Curry, and then Curry throws a lob for Paul. I seriously cannot remember the last time I saw Paul dunk.

One thing I loved to see was the palpable enthusiasm. For a few years, some of the players behaved as if the All-Star game and contests were a chore. Tonight, Giannis was thrilled to perform well in this setting. Curry and Lillard were having fun. Luka Doncic and Nikola Jokic smiled and joked. Mike Conley looked like he was going to tear up at one point.

The game, the skills competition, the three-point contest, the dunk contest meant something to the guys participating. They were excited to compete and it made the night fun. So much has stunk over the past year, it was good to see the NBA put on a show that was entertaining and enjoyable.

Because we nerd hard around here, below are numbers from the All-Star game.

Four Factors

Below are the four factors that decide who wins and loses in basketball — shooting (efg), rebounding (offensive rebounds), ball handling (turnovers), fouling (free throws made).

I’ve simplified them a bit. While the factors are usually presented as percentages, that’s more useful over a full season. In a single game, the raw numbers in each category are easier to understand.

PACE is possessions per 48 minutes.

Four Factors: 2021 All-Star Game

EFG 0.645 0.780 0.538
OREB 10 8 9.8
TOV 14 18 14.1
FTM 3 3 17.1
PACE 118 99.4
ORTG 127 144 112

Yes, you’re reading that .780 efg correctly. For kicks, I added a column with the league average for each of the factors.

Player Production Average

Below are Player Production Average (PPA) results from last night’s game. PPA is my overall production metric, which credits players for things they do that help a team win (scoring, rebounding, play-making, defending) and dings them for things that hurt (missed shots, turnovers, bad defense, fouls). PPA is a per possession stat that includes accounting for defense and role. In PPA, 100 is average and higher is better.

PPA is a per possession stat. The table below is sorted by each player’s total contributions for the game.

POSS is the number of possessions each player was on the floor in this game.

Team LeBron PPA

Giannis Antetokounmpo 19 47 569 17
Stephen Curry 22 53 343 17
Damian Lillard 21 51 273 17
Paul George 26 64 217 3
Jaylen Brown 26 64 203 3
Chris Paul 31 76 154 26
Rudy Gobert 13 33 213 3
Luka Doncic 32 78 64 -1
Nikola Jokic 19 47 93 23
Domantas Sabonis 18 44 42 -5
LeBron James 13 31 2 -3

Team Durant PPA

Kyrie Irving 32 79 238 -3
Bradley Beal 31 75 208 -5
Jayson Tatum 17 40 376 7
James Harden 32 77 127 -23
Zach LaVine 28 69 120 -17
Donovan Mitchell 28 69 105 -17
Kawhi Leonard 20 48 133 -3
Nikola Vucevic 13 32 82 -19
Zion Williamson 14 35 68 -4
Julius Randle 13 32 49 -10
Mike Conley 12 30 -42 -6