By Ovunc Kutlu
LeBron James carried his team to a 148-145 victory in the National Basketball Association's (NBA) 67th All-Star Game in Los Angeles, California, on Sunday.
The All-Star Game, which brings some of the best players in the NBA together for a matchup on a single night, saw a new format in deciding the team rosters this season.
While the old format set Eastern versus Western conference players for 66 years, the new format had two team captains selected by combined votes of fans, media members and coaches.
After James of Cleveland Cavaliers and Stephen Curry of Golden State Warriors received the highest number of votes, they selected starting players for their respective teams on Jan. 18 in a non-televised event.
On Sunday night, both teams started the game with strong defenses, which was unusual for NBA All-Star games that had showcased frequent slam dunks and alley-oops in the past years.
Team LeBron was trailed by 78-76 at half-time, but managed to make a comeback and beat Team Stephen 148-145 in the game; the final seven minutes were nothing short of an intense defense that is mostly seen during NBA playoffs and finals.
In 31 minutes on the court, James scored 29 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished 8 assists.
James, who participated in his 14th NBA All-Star game, was chosen the Most Valuable Player of the match -- his third such award in All-Star games.
"Format was great," James said in the post-game news conference. "It definitely worked out for everybody, the players, the league, the fans."
While Kevin Durant of Golden State Warriors scored 19 points and grabbed 6 rebounds for Team LeBron, Kyrie Irving of Boston Celtics had 19 points and 9 assists.
"A few of us took it personal and kept the game at a pretty high level," Irving said about the intensity and high-level of unusual defense play.
In Team Stephen, DeMar DeRozan of Toronto Raptors had 21 points and 6 boards, while Karl-Anthony Towns of Minnesota Timberwolves scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
Curry was on the court for 26 minutes but could only score 11 points on top of 6 rebounds and 5 assists.
"It was a very competitive game. We did it the right way," Curry said in the news conference.
A number of NBA legends watched the game on the courtside, including all-time NBA scoring leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 11-time NBA champion Bill Russell, and Jerry West, whose silhouette is incorporated into the NBA's official logo.
Hollywood actor and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was also present, along with singer Beyonce and music producer Sean "Diddy" Combs.
Comedian Kevin Hart introduced the players before the tip-off.