Bucks' Damian Lillard named MVP of 2024 NBA All-Star Game

ByDave McMenamin ESPN logo
Monday, February 19, 2024

INDIANAPOLIS -- It was "Dame Time" all NBA All-Star Weekend long.

TheMilwaukee Bucks' Damian Lillard was named All-Star Game MVP on Sunday, scoring 39 points to lead the Eastern Conference to a 211-186 win over the West in the highest-scoring midseason exhibition to date.

He joined Michael Jordanas the only other player in league history to win a Saturday night event and be named MVP in the same All-Star Weekend.

"Anytime you're mentioned in the same category as Mike, it's an honor, it's a major accomplishment, even if it's All-Star Weekend," Lillard said during his postgame news conference with the Kobe Bryant MVP trophy placed on the table in front of him. "Because if it was that simple, more people would have done it."

Lillard won the 3-point contest on Saturday, edging theMinnesota Timberwolves' Karl-Anthony Towns and theAtlanta Hawks' Trae Young in the final round. Jordan won the dunk contest in 1988.

Towns had a noble effort as a runner-up on Sunday too, leading the West with 50 points in 28 minutes to become just the fourth player in All-Star Game history to reach the 50-point plateau. However, Lillard had more competition for the award from his East teammates in Indiana Pacers point guard Tyrese Haliburton and Boston Celtics shooting guard Jaylen Brown.

Haliburton, the hometown favorite, finished with 32 points on 11-for-15 shooting, 7 rebounds and 6 assists. He outscored the West singlehandedly 15-14 to start the game, going 5-for-5 from the field before missing the heat check from 34 feet away.

Brown had 36 points on 15-for-23 shooting and 8 rebounds, and his surge late in the third quarter helped regain control of the game for the East after the West came within 12 points.

Lillard received seven out of 12 votes for the award, and Haliburton garnered the other five. Lillard might have sealed his case when Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic failed to finish an alley-oop to himself, ricocheting the ball off the front of the rim midway through the third quarter. Lillard grabbed the rebound, advanced the ball and pulled up from just inside halfcourt, swishing a 3-pointer from 41 feet to boost his total to 33 points and the East's lead to 132-105.

He added six points in the fourth -- including a 44-foot trey with 22.1 seconds remaining -- to cap his night. Lillard finished 14-for-26 from the field, including 11-for-23 from beyond the 3-point arc, and added 6 assists.

It was his eighth All-Star appearance but his first time being named a starter.

"I'm a vet in the game at this point," Lillard, 33, said. "Why not go and try to get an MVP? Since I've been here enough."

For Lillard, who joined the Bucks in an offseason trade after spending the first 11 years of his career with the Portland Trail Blazers, it was a welcome weekend in the midst of a challenging stretch for Milwaukee.

"It's been a tough year, just the transition to a new team; we've had three coaches since I've been there," Lillard said, alluding to Doc Rivers' surprise replacement of Adrian Griffin and Joe Prunty's brief interim stint. "Anytime you have these types of experiences where you have adversity ... I think that's the time you got to show who you really are. Keep doing what you do, keep believing, and when you do that, usually it comes back to you.

"You just can't fold."

The same couldn't be said for each All-Star team's defensive efforts.

"I think it could be more competitive," Lillard admitted. "I think 200 is a lot to be scored. It just shows that we didn't go out there and compete like I guess you would want us to or whoever would want us to. But I think that's just what it is. Guys are talented. Make a lot of shots. We hit a lot of 3s, and that was it."

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