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'Pretty damn fun': Elam Ending recieves rave reviews in the All-Star Game

CHICAGO -- Chris Paul turned the question back on the reporter.

Do you think the All-Star Game is back because of the competitive game we saw?

“I don't know, you tell me,” the Thunder point guard said after the All-Star Game Sunday.

Paul was genuinely polling people. He was the one who pitched the Elam Ending to NBA commissioner Adam Silver. Silver listened. The game Sunday ended in an un-timed fourth quarter, with both teams playing to a target score. That sparked the competitiveness the reporter referenced.

“I was asking the guys how they enjoyed it during the game and at the end of the game,” Paul said. “So, you all be sure to ask them.”

In honor of the late Kobe Bryant, the NBA set the target score to 24 points above the leading team’s score at the end of the third quarter — Bryant wore No. 24 in the latter half of his career. Team Giannis led Team LeBron 133-124 entering the final period, so the teams played first-to-157.

“None of us knew what to expect,” LeBron James said. “But throughout the whole fourth quarter and at the end of the game, everybody was like, ‘That was pretty damn fun.’”

The excitement in the arena surged when Team LeBron’s James Harden drained a right corner 3-pointer to tie the game at 146.

The intensity peaked when Anthony Davis was called for a blocking foul, with the game tied at 152. What happened next was unpredicted. In an event that has been criticized recently for a lack of defense and a lackluster product, Paul, Harden and James all descended on the officiating team, arguing for a jump ball.

The Basketball Tournament, which adopted the format in 2017, has experienced a similar increase in pressure on the officials, with the elimination of the game clock.

“The game clock will diffuse that situation quite a bit,” TBT CEO Jon Mugar told The Oklahoman. “When it comes down to someone having to score is going to be a very heightened series of possessions anytime there's a winning basket on the line.”

In the All-Star Game, that effect gave the fans exactly what they had been craving: displays of passion.

Then, another monumental moment. Team LeBron coach Frank Vogel challenged the call. It was overturned, and Team LeBron got the jump ball it wanted.

Increasing the stakes even more, were the two sections of children in "Team LeBron" and "Team Giannis" shirts cheering from behind the hoop. They were from the Chicago Scholars Foundation and After School Matters, the two charities the teams were playing for.

After a pair of Harden free throws put Team LeBron within three points of victory, the team missed three potential game-winning field goals against Team Giannis’s amplified fourth-quarter defense. The crowd oohed and aahed with each.

“The end was amazing,” Team Giannis coach Nick Nurse said. “I think everybody in the whole place was on their feet watching each possession, and they were really going at it. Offensively it was hard to get anything started. Even first passes were being denied. It felt like the end of a playoff game, which was really cool, I thought.”

Davis finally secured the win at the free throw line.

Turner Sports announced an 8% increase in viewership from last season. It peaked in the fourth quarter with an average of eight million viewers during the last 15 minutes of the game.

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WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks (Team Giannis): “After the game, my brother came down, and he said, this has been the most fun All-Star he's been a part of. And I asked him why, and he told me, ‘Because you guys were really competitive. You guys were playing to win.’ Team Giannis, that's what we were trying to do. We were trying to come out, set the tone, play hard. Especially in the fourth quarter, the defense got tighter. Guys were hitting one another. Every possession counts. We had a little bit of playoff intensity out there.

“So I loved it. I hope we can keep the same format for a lot of years, and I think people had fun, we had fun. So that's what it's all about.”

Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat (Team Giannis): “It was dope. Damn sure got to compete at the end. It’s still fun to go out there and be known as one of the best players in the world in this league. Hopefully it stays like that.”

Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers (Team LeBron): “I feel like playing in the end was a playoff game. It was a great competition. It’s 24 players who want to compete at a very high level and to do it in front of a crowd like this. New format, everybody in the game really loved it. Like I said, it was a fun competition. It was great.”

Kemba Walker, Boston Celtics (Team Giannis): “I thought it was cool. I had no idea coming into the game, I didn't know what to expect. As we played, it was great. That's what everybody wants to see. They want to see a competitive game. That's what it was in the fourth. Hopefully, we can keep it going.”

Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors (Team Giannis): “We wanted to win. We’ll do anything it takes to win a basketball game. I think the format was great for everybody. The change helped the whole experience.”

Related Photos
<strong>Team LeBron guard Chris Paul of the Oklahoma City Thunder, front, forward LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers, back, and forward Anthony Davis of the Los Angeles Lakers, right, react to a call during the fourth quarter during the NBA All Star Game at United Center in Chicago. [Quinn Harris/USA TODAY Sports]</strong>

Team LeBron guard Chris Paul of the Oklahoma City Thunder, front, forward LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers, back, and forward Anthony Davis of the Los Angeles Lakers, right, react to a call during the fourth quarter during the NBA All Star Game at United Center in Chicago. [Quinn...

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-7abb773a7e2d45f86041dd7d05ce25f5.jpg" alt="Photo - Team LeBron guard Chris Paul of the Oklahoma City Thunder, front, forward LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers, back, and forward Anthony Davis of the Los Angeles Lakers, right, react to a call during the fourth quarter during the NBA All Star Game at United Center in Chicago. [Quinn Harris/USA TODAY Sports] " title=" Team LeBron guard Chris Paul of the Oklahoma City Thunder, front, forward LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers, back, and forward Anthony Davis of the Los Angeles Lakers, right, react to a call during the fourth quarter during the NBA All Star Game at United Center in Chicago. [Quinn Harris/USA TODAY Sports] "><figcaption> Team LeBron guard Chris Paul of the Oklahoma City Thunder, front, forward LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers, back, and forward Anthony Davis of the Los Angeles Lakers, right, react to a call during the fourth quarter during the NBA All Star Game at United Center in Chicago. [Quinn Harris/USA TODAY Sports] </figcaption></figure>
Maddie Lee

Maddie Lee followed an NBA team from Seattle to Oklahoma City, she just took a 10-year detour in between. Lee joined the Oklahoman in October 2018 as a Thunder beat writer, fresh off a stint in Oxford, Miss., where she covered Ole Miss for the... Read more ›

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