NBA

Kobe Bryant to be honoured in new format for 2020 NBA All-Star Game

By Sports Desk January 30, 2020

Kobe Bryant will be honoured in the format of the 2020 NBA All-Star Game, the league announced on Thursday.

The annual All-Star Game takes place in Chicago on February 16, with the East captained by reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and the West led by Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James.

And the NBA has confirmed a number of alterations to the format of the game - one of which will honour Lakers legend Bryant who, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others, died in a helicopter crash in California last week.

Each of the first three quarters will act as a minigame starting from 0-0, with the winner of each 12-minute period seeing $100,000 donated to their designated community charity in Chicago.

At the end of the third quarter, the accumulative scores will be calculated and a 'target score', which will be 24 points greater than the leading team's tally, will be set for the fourth and final period.

This is a tribute to Bryant, who famously wore the 24 jersey for the Lakers, along with the number eight, during his career.

The fourth quarter has no time limit and will only end when the 'target score' is reached by either team, this time seeing $200,000 given to charity on behalf of the victors.

NBA president of league operations Byron Spruell said: "We spent a lot of time considering the right target number to use for the fourth quarter.

"Through the events of this week, it became clear to us that the only appropriate number for this season's All-Star Game is 24."

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    The Nets got back on track after consecutive defeats to the Cleveland Cavaliers by overcoming the Heat 128-124 on Saturday.

    Up against an inspired Bam Adebayo, who scored a career-best 41 points, Brooklyn relied on the star power of Irving, Kevin Durant and James Harden to get them over the line.

    "It's not every day you see this collection of guys playing together in NBA history, so we want to take full advantage of that," Irving told reporters.

    Irving proved decisive, with 18 of his 28 points coming in the fourth quarter, including three three-pointers.

    "It's winning time," Irving told reporters while explaining his mentality in the final quarter.

    "I've always said that throughout my career. When it gets down to that point, obviously you just want to buckle down on the defensive end, get stops, and I felt like we did that.

    "We had two losses where we had to learn a lot very quickly and we just moved on to the next night. I feel like we gave the effort in spurts, and obviously we want to have more consistency in that, and that'll take time. I'm happy with the effort."

    While Durant topped the Nets' scoring with 31 points, Harden also stepped up to the plate, posting 12 points and 11 assists with seven rebounds.

    "It feels good not to have to score so much to give ourselves a chance to win a game," eight-time All-Star Harden said.

    "I can go out there and just be a playmaker and shoot my shot when it's available and still get guys involved, and still have a chance to win the game.

    "That's a change. But for me just being the player that I am, impacting the game in other ways other than scoring."

    Durant, meanwhile, hailed Irving as the difference-maker.

    "You've seen how special and talented and hard-working Kyrie is," Durant told reporters. "He works on all of those shots every day and he comes in with that mentality that especially late in the games he'll have to knock those down for us.

    "He's an all-world player, he's a great team-mate but when the ball is in his hands late in the game, our team is just so unpredictable because he can make the pass, he can score in the mid-range, score in the three-point area, get to the basket and we've got weapons around him that makes it tough to guard.

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    Though the Nets' star trio ultimately claimed the win, Miami's Adebayo was at his best, finishing with five rebounds and nine assists in addition to his 41 points.

    "It was about time Bam had 40 in terms of getting a lot of those moves that he's been working on in the offseason," said Irving, who – against coronavirus protocols – attempted to swap jerseys with Adebayo on the court before a Heat official intervened.

    "Just watching him grow since high school, be able to take over at this point for kind of an undermanned Miami team, it's good to see."

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    "That means a lot, Reg. I appreciate it," he replied.

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    Even though he still needs more than 400 three-pointers to make up the ground on Allen, Curry's rate of scoring means his move to the top of the pile should only be a matter of time.

    Over the course of a 715-game NBA career, he averages 3.6 per game and boasts a 43.3 per cent success rate from beyond the arc.

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