NBA All-Star Game again sees tons of points, lack of defense despite call for better competition

The first half of the All-Star Game was record-setting, and not exactly the more-competitive level of play that the NBA was seeking.

The Eastern Conference led the Western Conference 104-89 at halftime Sunday night — with the 193 points the most ever scored in an All-Star half. The previous record was set last year, when 191 points were scored before halftime.

The East tied the record for points in any half; the West also had 104 in the second half of the 2016 game in Toronto, which it won 196-173.

A defense-optional tone was set very early. Indiana’s Tyrese Haliburton had five 3-pointers in a 1:32 span in the first quarter, helping the East take a 53-47 lead after the opening 12 minutes.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and other league executives were seeking a more competitive All-Star Game after last season’s 184-175 matchup was widely panned — and television ratings plummeted.

Even Hall of Famer Larry Bird, honored Sunday at the NBA Legends Brunch, said was hoping the message from the league resonated and players took the All-Star Game a little more seriously.

“I know what this league’s all about and I’m very proud of it,” Bird said. “I’m proud of today’s players. I like the game they play. … I think it’s very important when you have the best players in the world together, you’ve got to compete and you’ve got to play hard and you’ve got to show the fans how good they really are.”

It had a big-game, Finals-type atmosphere — but obviously, nothing near a playoff feel. Luka Doncic shot a 70-footer late in the first half, Donovan Mitchell threw a 50-foot inbounds pass underhand, Bam Adebayo inbounded a ball off Nikola Jokic’s backside before dribbling downcourt and making a 3, and Devin Booker went through pregame with a hat on backwards.



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