James was the only player from the Cavaliers to make the cut, while Lue to the place of David Blatt as the East head coach after Blatt was fired.
After one quarter the Eastern Conference lead the Western Conference 43-40. Kobe Bryant and LeBron James never met in an NBA Finals game, so they squared off another way — they took the opening tap against one another, with Bryant winning.
The East starters all took turns guarding Bryant in the opening minutes, even though “guarding” is a relative term in an All-Star Game.
Dwyane Wade and James re-enacted some of their former Miami Heat hijinks, teaming up for an alley-oop dunk in the opening moments. They could have had another spectacular one midway through the quarter, but James couldn’t finish after a snazzy high bounce pass from Wade.
Kawhi Leonard had 13 points and Bryant had 10 points and five rebounds to help the Western Conference take a 92-90 lead over the East into halftime.
Like usual, the game has been filled with plenty of dunks and offense and very little defense. Playing in his 18th and final All-Star game, Bryant made 4 of 8 shots in the first half.
He had a memorable one-on-one showdown with James in the second quarter. LeBron slapped the floor on defense in front of him as the crowd cheered, but Bryant missed a tough fallaway jumper.
Things sure didn’t slow down during the second half, other than James and Bryant taking some time out to rest on the bench.
They score kept rising and the fun didn’t stop on either end of the court. There were plenty of trick shots and not much defense on either end.
The Cavaliers will return to play from the All-star break in Cleveland on Thursday against the Bulls.