Cameroonian center Joel Embiid became the leader of the Philadelphia Sixers that ended the triumph of the Golden State Warriors of 11 consecutive victories, while the Milwaukee Bucks claimed the best team in the league by beating the Raptors of Toronto.
Embiid contributed a double-double of 26 points and 20 rebounds with which he won the individual duel to DeMarcus Cousins and guided the Sixers to victory at home by 104-113 against the Warriors.
The Sixers had not won a game in the series against the Warriors in six years, but Embiid and Australian baseman Ben Simmons, who was elected Eastern Conference reserve to be in the All-Star Game, were instrumental in getting the victory.
Simmons contributed with 26 points, eight rebounds, six assists, three ball recoveries and one stopper.
Base Stephen Curry shone as the Warriors’ leading scorer, finishing with 41 points, including 10 3-pointers from 18 attempts, and delivering six assists.
The Greek power forward Giannis Antetokounmpo returned to be the leader of the Bucks to provide 19 points that allowed his team to beat at home by 92-105 to the Raptors and consolidate at the head of the Eastern Conference standings and best mark of the league (37-13).
Along with Antetokounmpo, who also contributed nine rebounds -eight defensive-, distributed five assists, recovered four balls and put two plugs, the guard-forward Khris Middleton, who was chosen as reserve of the Eastern Conference for his first All-Star as a professional , scored 18 points.
The victory ensures the Bucks the best mark until next February 3, which allows his coach Mike Budenholzer to lead the Eastern Conference team in the next All-Star Game, in which for the first time since In the 2001 season there will also be two Milwaukee players: Antetokounmpo and Middleton.
Cameroonian forward Pascal Siakam with 28 points was the leader of the attack of the Raptors, who also had the support of forward Kawhi Leonard with 16 points, although they were not enough to avoid the defeat.
James returned after missing 17 games because of injury and the Lakers took advantage of his double-double of 24 points and 14 rebounds to win at home in overtime by 120-123 Los Angeles Clippers after having wasted a lead of 14 points in the fourth period.
The duel between the two angelic teams had James as the great figure. He was just one assist away from a triple-double: he scored 5 of 7 shots and did not commit any staff in the first 40 minutes he played since being injured on Christmas Day against the Golden State Warriors.
His absence, the biggest he has had in his 16 years as a professional, left the Lakers with a losing record of 11-16.
Reserve guard Lou Williams with 24 points was the leader of the Clippers (28-24), who remain second in the Pacific Division, although they lost the second consecutive game.
The base Derrick White confirmed his status as the new leader of the Spurs of San Antonio by contributing 26 points, better mark as a professional, which allowed them to be imposed by 117-114 to the Brooklyn Nets.
White’s inspirational tally, which has already secured the starting spot left vacant by Frenchman Tony Parker with his departure to the Charlotte Hornets, made it possible for the Spurs, for the second consecutive game, to complete the comeback and ensure the sixteenth victory achieve in their field against the Nets.
In addition to White, who also distributed six assists, power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, selected for the seventh time to the All-Star Game, got 20 points, including the three he scored on a key play in the last minute of the game, as well as dominating inside the painting with 13 rebounds.
The presence of Aldridge allows the Spurs to have at least one player in the All-Star Game for the twenty-first consecutive season since 1976.
In other games of the day, Detroit won 93-89 to Dallas and Orlando beat 107-100 to Indiana.