Points records fall at NBA All-Star Game, East scores 211

Luka Doncic drives on Damian Lillard during the first half of Sunday night's NBA All-Star Game in Indianapolis. (Associated Press)
Luka Doncic drives on Damian Lillard during the first half of Sunday night's NBA All-Star Game in Indianapolis. (Associated Press)

INDIANAPOLIS -- The NBA wanted more competition. It got more points instead -- more than ever before.

And once again, the All-Star Game was all offense.

The Eastern Conference beat the Western Conference 211-186 on Sunday night, with the winners putting up the most points in the game’s 73-year history. The previous mark: 196 by the West in 2016.

“We had fun,” East captain Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks said.

It was a flurry of records: The total points of 397 smashed the record of 374 set in 2017, while the East made 42 3-pointers to break the mark of 35 set by Team LeBron in 2019. The sides combined for 193 points in the first half to break the any-half record of 191 set last year, and the East tied an any-half record by scoring 104 by intermission.

All-Star MVP Damian Lillard of the Bucks scored 39 points for the East, while Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics had 36 and Tyrese Haliburton from the hometown Indiana Pacers finished with 32.

“To be able to have this kind of accomplishment, it’s special,” Lillard said.

Perhaps unnoticed: Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves scored 50 points for the West in just 28 minutes. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Oklahoma City Thunder scored 31 points for the West.

“The shot-making from the East was incredible,” West forward Kevin Durant said. “Hard to play defense when somebody’s shooting 30-, 40-footers over you.”

The West scored a ton of points, too: At 186, it had the fourth-most by any team in All-Star history. And obviously, the most ever in a loss.

The highlights were from everywhere. Lillard pulled up from halfcourt in the third quarter -- swish. Luka Doncic tried a shot from about 70 feet late in the first half; it hit near the top of the backboard. Towns even threw an alley-oop to Stephen Curry; the Warriors star is much more of a shooter than a dunker, so he simply laid it in instead.

The only drama in the fourth was about the record -- and really, that wasn’t in doubt. The East had 160 points through three quarters, only needing 37 more to set the team All-Star record.

Brown’s 3-pointer with 1:54 left broke the mark, giving the East 197. Haliburton made the shot that sent a scoreboard to the 200-point mark for the first time in any sort of official NBA history, connecting from deep with 1:27 left.

Lillard said the East wanted the record.

“Everybody was asking what the record was,” Lillard said. “We found out and went after it.”

And Lillard ended it in style -- a 44-footer to close the scoring. He made 11 3-pointers on the night, with the official distance of those recorded at 347 feet. A typical NBA 3-pointer is 24 or 25 feet; Lillard averaged 31.5 feet on his 3s Sunday night.

Durant said he was watching Lillard on the West bench while sitting with the Los Angeles Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard. “We were in awe,” Durant said.

Defense was optional, sometimes accidental. There were 14 steals, most of those coming off wayward passes. And there were even three blocked shots.

Otherwise, it was shooting practice. And the tone was set quickly -- Haliburton had five 3-pointers in a wild span of just 1:32 in the first quarter, helping the East take a 53-47 lead after the opening 12 minutes.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver and other league executives were seeking a more competitive All-Star Game after last season’s 184-175 matchup was widely panned -- and television ratings plummeted.

Fun was had, and LeBron James -- in his 20th All-Star Game, extending his record -- said there was one big takeaway.

“The good thing that came out of tonight is none of the players were injured,” James said. “Everybody came out unscathed.”

Except the scoreboard, perhaps.