The NBA family recently lost Kobe Bryant, one of its all-time greats, to a horrible tragedy, and so to honor his memory, they’ve overhauled the way All-Star Game works.
For the 69th annual NBA All Star Game, Team LeBron and Team Giannis will face off for three 12-minute quarters, with each quarter starting with a score of 0-0, so there’s a winner for each quarter. At the conclusion of the third quarter, the scores for each team will added up, but the winner won’t be determined by who scores the most total points through fourth period of play.
Instead, the teams will play the fourth quarter without a clock, until one of them reaches a target score. The target score will be determined by taking the leading team’s score through three quarters and adding 24, in honor of (one of) Kobe’s retired number. It’s not nearly as confusing as it sounds. If the score through three quarters in 90-80, the target score to win would be 90 + 24 = 114. First team to 114 wins it — simple, right? (If you’re still baffled, here’s an FAQ).
Setting aside all the math, what’s cool about this tweak is that it guarantees that the game ends on a made shot, rather than one team running out the clock during garbage time. Not that there’s typically garbage time at the All Star Game, but still…
The winner of each of the first two quarters will get $100,000 for the charity of their choice. In the event that either quarter ends in a tie, the money will roll over to the next quarter (like a skins game, for you golfers out there). If the third quarter ends in a tie, that money will be rolled over and awarded to the team that first reaches the target score. If one team should win each of the first three quarters and the game, they would get $500,000 for the charity of their choice and the losing team would get $100,000.
It’s cool to see the NBA continuing to experiment with their All-Star format. Here’s a look at this week’s games, along with an All-Star Weekend preview.
Tuesday, February 11
Los Angeles Clippers (37-16) vs Philadelphia 76ers (33-21)
7pm ET on TNT
Even with Kawhi Leonard taking Sunday off, the Clippers beat the Cavs 133-92, Cleveland’s worst home loss ever. LA shot 57% from the floor and the Cavs shot just 21.2% from beyond the arc. The Sixers improved on Sunday to 24-2 at home, best in the NBA, with their 118-111 win over the Bulls, thanks to a monster effort from Joel Embiid, who had 28 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, and 4 blocks.
Boston Celtics (37-15) vs Houston Rockets (33-20)
9:30pm ET on TNT
After taking a 9-point lead with 1:40 to play on Sunday, the Celtics barely held on for a 112-111 win over the Thunder, with Jayson Tatum scoring 26 points and grabbing 11 boards. James Harden posted a triple-double with 28-10-10 and Russel Westbrook scored 39 on Sunday, but a 3-point buzzer beater by Utah’s Bojan Bogdanovic brought the Rockets crashing back to Earth for a 114-113 loss.
Wednesday, February 12
Milwaukee Bucks (46-7) vs Indiana Pacers (31-23)
7:30pm ET on ESPN
Even with Giannis Antetokounmpo taking Monday off for the birth of his first child, the Bucks managed to beat the Kings 123-111 as Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe each poured in 28 points and dropped 8 dimes. The Pacers on Monday dropped their sixth straight, losing a seesaw affair against Brooklyn, 106-105. Victor Oladipo continues to struggle in his return from injury, as he’s averaging 10.8 ppg, 1.8 rpg and 2.7 apg while shooting 29.5% from the floor. If he can’t get his groove back soon, the Pacers’ playoff hopes — and my fantasy team — are doomed.
Los Angeles Lakers (40-12) vs Denver Nuggets (38-16)
10pm ET on ESPN
Anthony Davis carried the load on Monday, scoring 25 points, pulling down 10 rebounds, and dishing 5 assists in the Lakers’ 125-100 dismantling of the Suns. The Nuggs rallied from a 14-point half-time deficit to beat the Spurs 127-120, with Nikola Jokic, reigning Western Conference Player of the Week, posting 19-8-13.
Thursday, February 13
Los Angeles Clippers (37-16) vs Boston Celtics (37-15)
8pm ET on TNT
The Clippers are on track to tie the franchise record for wins, 57, set by the 2013-14 Clippers that were led by Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Kawhi Leonard’s 27.1 ppg would be the most since the team’s move to Los Angeles ahead of the 1984-85 season. Seven of the Celtics’ 15 losses came in January, but they’re undefeated in the month of February at 7-0.
Friday, February 14
Team Wilbon vs Team Stephen A.
7pm ET on ESPN
Common and Chance the Rapper will serve as captains for Team Wilbon and Team Stephen A., respectively in the All-Star Celebrity Game.
World vs USA
9pm ET on TNT
All Star starter Luka Dončić will lead the World in a showdown with fellow All Star starter Trae Young and the Americans in a matchup of the best first- and second-year players in the league.
Saturday, February 15
All-Star Saturday Night
8pm ET on TNT
The Boston Celtics’ Jayson Tatum will seek to defend his crown in the Skills Challenge, against a field that includes two past winners, Patrick Beverley of the LA Clippers and Spencer Dinwiddie of the Brooklyn Nets, as well as four other All-Stars. Then, Joe Harris of the Brooklyn Nets will try to hold onto to win back-to-back 3-Point Contests. And, finally, former champion Dwight Howard of the Lakers returns to the Slam Dunk contest for the first time in 11 years to face Pat Connaughton (Milwaukee), Aaron Gordon (Orlando), and Derrick Jones Jr (Miami).
Sunday, February 16
Team LeBron vs Team Giannis
8pm ET on TNT
You know the drill: 24 of the greatest basketball players on Earth showing off with an eye-popping display of athleticism.