Bradley Beal may have had a slow start in the three-point contest on Saturday night, but in Sunday's All-Star Game he worked quickly to make the most of his relatively small window of playing time.
Beal checked in for the first time with 5:45 left in the first quarter and less than 25 seconds later had his first points on a two-handed dunk assisted by LeBron James.
1st quarter highlights: there was only one pic.twitter.com/vu1ir7AYDV— NBC Sports Wizards (@NBCSWizards) February 19, 2018
In his All-Star debut, Beal helped lead Team LeBron to a 148-145 victory over Team Stephen as the league utilizied a new format for the annual showcase.
Beal finished with 14 points and a steal in a productive night. He shot 5-for-10 from the field and an impressive 4-for-8 from long range.
Beal also tried to get a travelling call from the refs on Karl-Anthony Towns. Yeah, that's not likely to happen in an All-Star Game:
Bradley Beal’s 1st All Star game. pic.twitter.com/NDpbG8FVV6— Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It) February 19, 2018
Beal more than held his own and only played 16 minutes, which was good considering he has logged the fifth-most minutes of any player so far this season. A realistic best-case scenario was a strong showing and a short night and that's exactly what he got.
Not only does Beal play a lot of minutes, the Wizards need him now more than ever with John Wall's injury. He needs whatever rest he can get during this All-Star break.
Speaking of Wall, he was in the house despite being in the middle of his rehab from left knee surgery. Per usual, Wall was shining bright:
John Wall in his All-Star suit and of course some shades. pic.twitter.com/NxTaXZwwu6— Chase Hughes (@ChaseHughesNBCS) February 19, 2018
The All-Star Game wasn't all about Beal, of course. Here are some other things that stood out...
*The new format and increased financial incentive were intended to make the game more competitive and that's what happened late in the fourth quarter. Usually, that's how these things go where the players will start trying at the end. But this time it seemed to be up a few levels and it was fun to watch.
Both teams scored in the 140s, so it wasn't exactly a defensive battle. No matter what the league does, the players will only try so hard for so long. The main goal of everyone's is to not get injured in a game that ultimately doesn't count for anything. Still, this was different and appears to have been a success.
*While everyone was focusing on the reunion of LeBron and Kyrie Irving the best beef was Joel Embiid vs. Russell Westbrook. Those two have traded waves to taunt each other at the end of wins in head-to-head matchups and it was clear on Sunday they still don't like each other. Westbrook tried to dunk all over Embiid in the first half, only to get blocked at the rim.
Westbrook's determination to dunk on Embiid was out of the ordinary for an All-Star Game. It was obvious what was on his mind:
Ok here we go. Embiid vs. Russ beef Round 3. Westbrook dares Jojo to shoot, tries to get him back at other end, snatched. pic.twitter.com/JnRwYraCiL— Rob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) February 19, 2018
*Irving's handles are simply ridiculous. Check out this fake behind-the-back move he pulled with Giannis Antetkounmpo guarding him. Yes, it didn't fool the defender but it was impressive nonetheless:
Kyrie Irving with a fake behind the back dribble. Super smooth. pic.twitter.com/Ofjhtw6ZDx— Chase Hughes (@ChaseHughesNBCS) February 19, 2018
*LeBron is 33 years old, yet he was still running up and down the court faster than anyone and leaping above the rim to thrown down alley-oop after alley-oop. It is truly amazing and everyone should enjoy watching him while they can, regardless of whether they like the guy or not.
This was one of his dunks:
LeBron with the most hops of any 33-year-old on earth pic.twitter.com/i4FCcZaxkZ— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) February 19, 2018
LeBron took home MVP with a game-high 29 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and a steal.
*The pregame show was quite bad. It was anchored by comedians Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle and, though they had some funny jokes, it lasted nearly 30 minutes. The whole thing was pretty much universally panned on social media. Fergie's national anthem was also roasted by the masses.
*The halftime show was much better. It began with N.E.R.D taking it back to their older days with 'Lapdance,' went to Migos performing 'Stir Fry' and swung back to N.E.R.D. who did their latest hit 'Lemon.'
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