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Damian Lillard's place in the East's starting lineup was a topic of fervent debate leading into Sunday's All-Star Game, but the Milwaukee Bucks point guard took advantage of the spotlight, earning his first NBA All-Star Game Kobe Bryant MVP Award with 39 points on 11-of-23 3-point shooting in the Eastern Conference's 211-186 trouncing over the Western Conference.

Lillard became the first player in NBA history to win the 3-point Contest and All-Star Game MVP in the same year. He also joins Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving, Glen Rice and Larry Bird as the only players to win both honors over the course of their careers.

Lillard got hot early in Sunday's main event, consistently knocking down 3-pointers from well beyond the line. His biggest moment came when he pulled up from half-court, hitting nothing but net on a smooth jumper with minimal added effort.

For good measure, Lillard hit another half-court shot late in the fourth quarter to lock up his first All-Star MVP.

Making his eighth All-Star appearance and first-ever start on Sunday, Lillard is having a down year by his standards. He's averaging 24.6 points, 6.7 assists and 4.1 rebounds, but his efficiency has taken a hit. Lillard is shooting 42.3% from the field, his lowest mark in a full season since 2016, and 34% from 3-point range -- the worst of his career outside of a 29-game season in 2021-22. Those numbers led to a pushback against his starting nod, with New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson the most common name mentioned to replace him.

Lillard won Sunday's MVP on a team helmed by his own coach, Doc Rivers, who earned the honor despite going just 3-7 after replacing Adrian Griffin as Bucks head coach in late January. Rivers said he would give the bonus money and ring to Griffin, who led Milwaukee to the second-best record in the East at the time of the cutoff, with NBA-leading Boston Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla ineligible since he coached the All-Star Game last season.

Lillard has averaged 21 points, six assists and three rebounds on 32% 3-point shooting since Rivers took over. The Bucks come out of the All-Star break in the third spot in the Eastern Conference with a 35-21 record, 8.5 games behind the Celtics and 1.5 games ahead of the No. 4 Knicks.