February 18, 2018 09:22 PM
LOS ANGELES (AP) - The Latest from Sunday's NBA All-Star Game and events around the league's annual showcase (all times local):
LeBron James is heating up but his team trails Team Stephen 78-76 at halftime of the NBA All-Star Game at Staples Center.
James has scored 15 points. He had a big dunk and a 3-pointer to help pull his team within one point, but then Team Stephen opened another big lead. Team LeBron closed the gap again on 3-pointers by Paul George and Victor Oladipo.
Stephen Curry had a slow start, going scoreless in the first quarter, and finally got his first points with a 3-pointer with 3:16 before halftime to push the lead to 67-58.
Klay Thompson has 15 points for Team Stephen, all on 3-pointers.
James and Curry are the captains and picked the teams in an attempt to freshen up the game.
Anthony Davis of New Orleans wore a DeMarcus Cousins jersey in the first quarter to honor his injured teammate, but then switched back to his own No. 23 jersey in the second quarter.
Team Stephen took a 42-31 lead over Team LeBron after the first quarter of the new-look NBA All-Star Game.
Rather than the traditional East vs. West matchup, the teams were picked by captains LeBron James and Stephen Curry.
The players seemed to be giving more effort than in most All-Star Games, but the play wasn't always better. However, players did seem to be actually playing some defense.
Karl Anthony-Towns of Minnesota led Team Stephen with 11 points while Anthony Davis of New Orleans had six for Team LeBron.
Davis wore the jersey of Pelicans teammate DeMarcus Cousins, who was voted to start but then suffered a season-ending injury.
First, there were elaborate pregame introductions by Kevin Hart, and then the Canadian national anthem by the Barenaked Ladies and the American national anthem by Fergie.
Then it was time for the NBA All-Star Game between Team LeBron and Team Stephen at Staples Center.
LeBron James has started his 14th straight NBA All-Star Game, breaking a tie with Bob Cousy for the longest streak in league history. James is one behind Kobe Bryant for the most overall.
Two intriguing subplots with Team LeBron are that James is teaming up again with Kyrie Irving, the Boston guard who campaigned to leave James' side in Cleveland last summer; and Russell Westbrook is once again teammates with Kevin Durant, who ditched him in Oklahoma City in 2016 to win a championship in Oakland last year. The final starter on Team LeBron is Anthony Davis of New Orleans.
James' original roster has been dramatically altered by injuries to DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall, Kristaps Porzingis and Kevin Love, who all won't play.
Stephen Curry is the first player in Golden State history to start five straight All-Star Games. His fellow starters are James Harden of Houston, DeMar DeRozan of Toronto, Joel Embiid of Philadelphia and Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee.
The U.S. men's basketball team tuned up for its upcoming World Cup qualifiers by beating Mexico 88-67 in the NBA G League International Challenge.
The event replaced the traditional G League All-Star Game. The Americans are using G League players in the World Cup qualifiers, so the game gave them extra preparation while they continue training for a pair of games later this month.
Aaron Harrison and Xavier Silas each scored 13 points for coach Jeff Van Gundy's team, which played under the name NBA G League USA.
The Americans are preparing to play Puerto Rico and Cuba in Santa Cruz, California, home of the Golden State Warriors' G League affiliate. They are 2-0 in qualifying thus far.
Luke Martinez scored 22 points for Mexico.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver doubled down on his support of players speaking out on social and political issues, opening his comments at the Legends Brunch by thanking the veterans for setting the tone for current players.
"Bill Russell was recognized before, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, I could go down the list of so many others here who created that tradition for the players in the NBA, who gave them the safety and comfort to speak out on issues that are important to them as they do today," Silver said Sunday.
"I'm so proud of that legacy," added the commissioner, who praised the current players on Saturday . "So thank you to all of the people in this room."
The issue of players publicly speaking out on various issues surfaced during All-Star weekend after Fox News host Laura Ingraham criticized three-time NBA champion LeBron James for his recent comments. James previously responded with an Instagram post containing similar sentiments.
During the Legends Brunch, four players were honored: Jerry West, Magic Johnson, Bill Walton, and James Worthy.
The NBA's All-Star version of a pickup game is taking center stage in Hollywood.
The 67th version of the All-Star Game on Sunday night features teams picked by captains LeBron James and Stephen Curry. Dispensing with the usual East vs. West format, the league is creating a new look to its annual showcase with teams picked regardless of geography.
That's how Curry and Golden State teammates Klay Thompson and Draymond Green will be going against Kevin Durant, and how James will play alongside Oklahoma City duo Russell Westbrook and Paul George.
Boston teammates Kyrie Irving and Al Horford are on opposing teams. Irving is on the same team as James, several months after Irving broke up their Cleveland partnership by forcing a trade.
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Updated: February 18, 2018 09:22 PM
Created: February 18, 2018 09:22 PM
(Copyright 2018 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)