2020 NBA All-Star Game score, takeaways: Team LeBron holds off Team Giannis in wild finish under new format

The 2020 NBA All-Star Game is officially in the books, and the event will never be the same. After an extraordinary weekend of events, the league's superstars saved the best for last. Trailing by nine points after three quarters, Team LeBron fought back to give us the greatest ending in All-Star Game history. The new Elam Ending set the target score at 157, and both sides fought with all they had to get there first. When the dust settled, it was Team LeBron that ended up on top. Here's how it happened. 

First quarter: Team LeBron wins 53-41 ($100,000 charity earnings)

After only a single quarter, 94 total points are on the board with Team LeBron leading Team Giannis 53-41. Team LeBron produced the two MVP favorites through one frame, with Kawhi Leonard leading all scorers at 12 points and Anthony Davis in close pursuit with nine playing in front of his hometown Chicago fans. Team Giannis has featured a more balanced attack with nobody topping eight points, but a number of players reaching at least six. 

Second quarter: Team Giannis wins 51-30 ($100,000 charity earnings)

Despite trailing by 12 in the overall score after one quarter, Team Giannis stormed back to take a nine-point overall lead by the half with the score at 92-83. Antetokounmpo's dominant quarter has him leading his team with 20 points so far, but it was defense (or, in All-Star parlance, Team LeBron's lack of offense) that truly led to the swing. Rudy Gobert deserves at least a modicum of credit for holding an All-Star team to only 30 points in a quarter. Trae Young closed the frame with a gorgeous halfcourt shot. 

Third quarter: The two teams tie, 41-41 ($100,000 rolls over into winner's pot)

For the first time in All-Star history, the resetting score came into effect in the third quarter of this one. It was closely contested throughout, and both Nick Nurse and Frank Vogel called timeouts at the end of the quarter to try to draw up plays to win the frame. Ultimately, neither did. The final points came on an alley-oop to Rudy Gobert that tied it at 41. Russell Westbrook missed a potential quarter-winning shot at the buzzer, so the frame ended in a tie. That means that the charity money designated for it rolls into the pot for the game's winner. 

Fourth quarter: Team LeBron wins 33-22, wins game 157-155 ($300,000 charity earnings, $400,000 total)

You may never see a more exciting fourth quarter in any game, and we got it in an All-Star Game. Team LeBron trailed by nine at the start of the quarter, and Team Giannis only needed 24 points to seal the game. But Team LeBron fought back, and the two sides traded leads for much of the quarter. We saw challenges, reviews, and even some extremely late calls. Ultimately, Team LeBron was able to score and Team Giannis could not. LeBron James cut the target score down to only one point with an easy dunk, and then hit Anthony Davis with a pass that earned him a foul. Davis clinched the win at the free-throw line -- on his second attempt -- ending the greatest All-Star Game of all time. 
















Here are four takeaways from Sunday night's incredible finish:

1. The Elam Ending is an unbridled success

The concept of ending a basketball game without a clock was met with skepticism and confusion when it was announced, but after seeing the Elam Ending in action, it's hard to imagine an All-Star Game without it. Removing the clock and setting a target score prevents any game from ever truly feeling over. Just as Team LeBron proved tonight, so long as a team is willing to keep fighting, no deficit is too great to overcome when the clock is off. 

The question now spreads to wider spread adoption. Given the excitement of this year's game, the Elam Ending is an absolute lock to be reused in future All-Star Games. But how far will the NBA take it? Surely the league isn't ready to include it in regulation games … yet. But a potential compromise might involve using it in the G League to work out any potential kinks. It would not be unreasonable to expect smaller high school or even college leagues to consider adopting it as well. With one minor tweak, the NBA turned an event it has considered broken for years into one of the most exciting moments of the season so far. Anything it can do to recapture that magic needs to be considered.

2. The game included many worrying parallels to the real NBA

Usually, taking anything away from an All-Star Game would be foolish. But this one was played at such a high level considering the fourth quarter admissible evidence for or against any number of contenders seems reasonable. 

Giannis Antetokounmpo didn't score a single point in the fourth quarter. Milwaukee's ability to score late in close games has been a major concern since the 2019 playoffs, and the Bucks are ranked only 13th in clutch offense this season. Tonight was hardly encouraging for Milwaukee on that front. LeBron James didn't look particularly explosive as a late-game closer either. When Antetokounmpo guarded him, he had a very difficult time generating good looks for himself. The Lakers lack a secondary creator, so a potential postseason matchup with Giannis (or a similarly gifted defender like Kawhi Leonard) looks fairly distressing at the moment. His solution was to switch-hunt Kemba Walker by using Chris Paul as a screener, a problem Boston will have to deal with in the playoffs. 

None of this should be considered the be-all or end-all for a team's playoff chances, but none of those teams should feel great after watching Sunday's game either. 

3. Chris Paul's still got it

Chris Paul was essentially considered untradable eight months ago. When younger guards like Devin Booker and Ja Morant missed out on All-Star selections initially, Paul was viewed by many as the legacy choice whose spot should have been allocated elsewhere. But when the game got serious, Paul stepped up. It was he who led Team LeBron to a furious double-digit comeback that started in the third quarter. His plus-13 mark was the best plus-minus of any player in the game, and when the time came to decide on closing lineups, it was Paul, not MVP candidate Luka Doncic, that Frank Vogel trusted down the stretch. 

Paul made the All-Star team. Obviously the basketball world is aware that he was still quite good. But the entire narrative surrounding him for the past year has focused on his age and contract. He's stranded in the middle of basketball nowhere as a member of the middling Oklahoma City Thunder, and for awhile there, it genuinely appeared as if he might never have another moment of this significance in his NBA career. But at the end of the All-Star Game -- a moment typically reserved for the 10 best players in the NBA -- Paul proved that he could still hang with anyone in basketball. Notably, Russell Westbrook finished the game on the bench for Team LeBron. Just another shred of vindication in what has been an excellent year for Paul. 

4. Rudy Gobert was playing defense before it was cool

Yes, the fourth quarter was action-packed and featured playoff-caliber defense for large stretches, but let's take a second to appreciate the player who wanted to be in the All-Star Game most of all. A year ago, the Utah Jazz center broke down into tears over his snub. He finally earned the nod this year, and he made the absolute most of it. He made 10 of his 11 shot attempts, pulled down 11 rebounds, and most amazingly of all, played real defense in the second quarter of an All-Star Game.

It's not a coincidence that the lowest scoring non-Elam Ending quarter of the game for either squad was Team LeBron's 30-point outing in the second. That was when Gobert got most of his playing time. He served as a genuine deterrent at the rim in a game that usually turns into a glorified dunk contest. It was a refreshing change of pace. Gobert finally earned the honor he had waited his entire career to achieve, and when he stepped onto the floor as an All-Star for the first time, he did so entirely as himself. 

Stay current with all the updates, highlights and analysis below from the 2020 NBA All-Star Game.  

SUN 8:00 P
GIA +6.5, o305.5
GIA 6.5, O/U 305.5
Live updates
See New Posts

Don't expect to see Giannis competing in the Dunk Contest ever again folks.

The new format definitely worked for players having an incentive to keep playing in this game. Kemba Walker shares that he was on a minutes restriction but the game was on the line and he wanted to be out there.

Trae Young did some stuff during the All-Star Game that his teammates didn't expect from him.

Kawhi Leonard on the All-Star Game ending on a free throw:

I mean, it's a point, so we can't take out free throws through the whole game. They pretty much made the last six or seven free throws towards the end. They kept giving them. So do we want to minus those points as well? But the new format was good. I felt like it was fun in that fourth quarter.

Chris Paul on the alley-oop dunk from Russell Westbrook:

Kemba backed up into me a little bit, you know what I mean? I ain't Russ. It's got to be the perfect throw, everything. So it was cool. Like I said, it was nice to get an opportunity to play with those guys because three, four days, we're going to be back to the grind, and it ain't going to be all that dapping up.

LeBron on the format/ending: 

I didn't know what to expect because it was a new format, new year. None of us knew what to expect. But throughout the whole fourth quarter and at the end of the game, everybody was like, "That was pretty damn fun." That was fun. Having to play for a set number and seeing that -- I've watched a lot of basketball in the summertime, and I forgot the name of the league where the guys, you know, their alma mater, they go back and play for their teams and things of that nature, they have a set number they have to get to that, that $2 million championship tournament. Maybe you don't watch basketball in the summer.

February 17, 2020, 5:17 AM

Lakers coach Frank Vogel on the "local kid" Anthony Davis hitting the game-winning free throw: "I knew it was going to be a special kind of weekend for him coming home, and to see him win a game like that was pretty special."

Kawhi Leonard stayed true to his roots while speaking with the media after earning All-Star Game MVP honors. He went on to dedicate his performance to Kobe Bryant, who the award is now named after.

In total, Team LeBron's designated community-based organization, Chicago Scholars, will receive the $400,000 charity award. Team Giannis' designated community-based organization, After School Matters, will receive the $100,000 charity award.

February 17, 2020, 4:35 AM

AD missed the first but hits the second to win it. 157-155 for team lebron

February 17, 2020, 4:31 AM

unsuccessful challenge. AD to the line for the win

February 17, 2020, 4:29 AM

pretty clearly a foul. lowry grabbed davis' arm and pulled him down. would be shocked if they overturn this

February 17, 2020, 4:29 AM

anthony davis gets fouled. team giannis calling for a review. no reason not to because if davis just makes one free throw its over

February 17, 2020, 4:28 AM

foul on lebron. embiid going to the line for two. makes the first. makes the second. 156-155 team lebron. we're in next basket wins mode. lets hope its a real shot and not on free throws

February 17, 2020, 4:26 AM

lebron dunk! 156-153 team lebron

February 17, 2020, 4:23 AM

offensive foul on lowry! team lebron ball with a chance to win it

February 17, 2020, 4:23 AM

harden hits a 3 for the win and it gets waved off! they called a charge!

February 17, 2020, 4:21 AM

Oh wow! the call is OVERTURNED! Basket doesn't count we're back to 154-153 Team LeBron leads.

Goaltending call on Giannis is being reviewed right now. If it stands, the basket counts for LeBron and all they need is one more point to win.

harden gets to the line and makes it 154-152 team lebron. game point now for team lebron if they hit a 3

February 17, 2020, 4:15 AM

successful challenge!

February 17, 2020, 4:13 AM

We're getting a challenge! In the All-Star Game! The Elam Ending solved everything!

February 17, 2020, 4:12 AM

the refs really don't seem prepared for this level of physicality. they've been letting pretty much everything go down the stretch and the teams are getting pretty frustrated

February 17, 2020, 4:12 AM

the elam ending has made this final quarter extremely entertaining for everyone involved. Players are arguing calls, taking charges, diving on the ground and the fans are on their feet in the United Center. Great change by the league.

omg team lebron is challenging a call. this rocks

February 17, 2020, 4:11 AM

chris paul is about to get Td up lol

February 17, 2020, 4:11 AM

the big winner of tonight is the guy who invented the elam ending. gotta be pretty sick to see your idea come to fruition like this on such a big stage

February 17, 2020, 4:05 AM

kyle lowry just drew a charge!

February 17, 2020, 4:01 AM
See More

Our Latest Stories


76ers vs. Celtics odds, picks, sims

CBS Sports Staff • 2 min read

How key NBA additions are faring so far

Colin Ward-Henninger • 11 min read

Suns vs. Nuggets odds, picks, sims

CBS Sports Staff • 3 min read