NBA All-Star 2024 winners and losers: Stephen Curry vs. Sabrina Ionescu lives up to hype; Dunk Contest disappoints

The 2024 NBA All-Star Weekend in Indianapolis was one to remember. There were plenty of noteworthy events throughout the three-day festivities, both good and bad. 

Sporting News had you covered through the whole weekend, with live coverage of the Celebrity Game, Rising Stars, Skills Challenge, 3-Point Contest, Dunk Contest, Steph vs. Sabrina 3-point Challenge and, of course, the game itself

Here are the highlights and lowlights from the star-studded event. 

MORE: How LeBron James’ All-Star Game shoes pay tribute to Deion Sanders

NBA All-Star 2024 winners

Steph vs. Sabrina

The matchup between Curry and Ionescu absolutely lived up to the hype.

Ionescu came out first, shooting from the NBA line with a WNBA ball despite being given the option of competing from the closer-in WNBA line. That added distance didn’t do much to slow her down — she put up a sizzling 26 points, which tied the highest single-round total from the regular 3-Point Contest. 

MORE: Basketball Twitter rips Kenny Smith for Sabrina Ionescu comments

Unfortunately, that wasn’t quite good enough to top the best shooter of all time. After starting out lukewarm, Curry caught fire to end with 29 points. 

The one-round competition was the best part of the weekend. Both players showed why they are considered among the best shooters in the world and raised some money for charity along the way. 

Damian Lillard

Lillard is having a poor shooting season by his standards, hitting only 34.1 percent of his 3-point shots coming into All-Star Weekend. He was still the betting favorite going into the 3-Point Contest, and he didn’t disappoint.

Dame Time hit his final shot in the last round to edge out Trae Young and Karl-Anthony Towns, becoming the first repeat champion in 16 years

Lillard followed that win up with a terrific performance in Sunday’s main event, winning the MVP and leading the East with 39 points. His highlights included two deep 3s from halfcourt. 

Mac McClung

How many times can McClung save All-Star Weekend? The star dunker did it again.

His entire reel from Saturday is worth watching.

It’s unfortunate that the high-flying McClung hasn’t been able to stick in the NBA, but the league should keep on bringing him back for these things because he is clearly far above the rest of the field. 

MORE: Why isn’t Mac McClung in the NBA?

Jaylen Brown

Brown made the final round of the Dunk Contest, but he didn’t have a particularly great showing. He was criticized all over social media for his basic dunks. 

Put the mediocre performance aside for a moment. Brown deserves credit for putting his name in the contest in the first place. The NBA has struggled to get their marquee names to participate, and Brown stepped up to the plate. 

“I think, ultimately, in this media era, some players are just afraid to get turned into a meme or whatever,” Brown told the media afterward. “I wanted to come out and have fun within it and that’s what I did.”

Kudos to Brown for having the right attitude about the event. He also had an impressive 36 points on Sunday.

Bennedict Mathurin

Mathurin’s Team Jalen took down the Rising Stars Challenge, and the Pacers rising star took down the MVP award of the tournament in front of his hometown crowd. It was certainly an eventful two games for him. 

Special shout out to teammate Jeremy Sochan, who said “that’s the easiest 25 I ever made,” referencing the $25,000 prize he received while going scoreless in two games and attempting a combined two shots.

Tyrese Haliburton

The hometown hero got the crowd buzzing early with five straight 3-pointers to start Sunday’s game. He became the first player to ever draw a double-team within four minutes of tipoff, forcing him to chuck up a deep heat-check 3 that finally ended his streak. 

Haliburton looked to be in contention for the MVP award early, scoring 18 in the first half and getting some shots late to finish with 32 points. 

NBA All-Star 2024 losers

The All-Star Game itself

The actual play on Sunday was sloppy, to put it kindly.

Commissioner Adam Silver had expressed hopes that the players would take it more seriously this year, but the defense was the worst that it’s ever been. The Eastern Conference All-Stars were the first team to ever score over 200 in the game. 

MORE: The highest-scoring games in All-Star history

Most of the game featured both teams dribbling around and eventually jacking up a 3. Karl-Anthony Towns got up to 50 points towards the end of the game by driving in for uncontested dunks.

The game was a blowout by the fourth quarter, making it even less competitive than the 211-186 final score. 

Kenny Smith

Smith’s commentary was all over the place during Saturday night’s events, earning the ire of NBA Twitter. He saved his harshest criticism for Ionescu after her loss to Curry. 

“She should have shot from the women’s line,” Smith said seconds after the event concluded. “That would have been a fair contest.”

Credit goes to Reggie Miller, who tried to stick up for Ionescu. 

“Why are you putting those boundaries on her? She wanted to shoot from there,” Miller said.

“She should have shot from the [closer] line,” Smith added. “There is a women’s tee in golf and there is a men’s tee for a reason.”

Smith’s criticism ruined what was a great event and a fantastic performance from Ionescu, who would have likely beaten anyone in the gym aside from Curry. 

Scottie Barnes

It is unclear what exactly Barnes was doing during the Skills Challenge. He certainly wasn’t trying to win it. 

That wasn’t even Barnes’ worst moment in the competition. He had the ball roll into the first row of the stands while trying to dribble between pylons. 

Barnes wasn’t the only one who was goofing off during Saturday’s festivities. Anthony Edwards did the Skills Challenge left-handed, tanking his team’s chances of winning. 

Dunk Contest judges

The scoring was all over the place during the Dunk Contest. Each dunk seemingly randomly scored between 46 and 50 points. Some of Jaylen Brown’s mediocre attempts appeared to be getting bumped up to get him into the final round, while Jacob Toppin had one of the best dunks of the night and was eliminated in the first round.  

In fairness, the contestants didn’t give the judges a ton to work with. Most of the dunks were some variation of jumping over someone. McClung and Toppin had some creative dunks, but they weren’t even rewarded with particularly high scores for their attempts. 

McClung ultimately salvaged the event (again), but the league needs to consider tinkering with the event next year. 

2-for-1 shots

Luka Doncic took one of the worst shots you’ll ever see, heaving it from 70 feet with 33 seconds left. The shot bricked off the backboard, but Doncic defended it with a playful tweet that he fired off during halftime of the game. 

Tyrese Haliburton fits

Haliburton has had some wild outfits all year. The one he wore into All-Star took the cake. 

My favorite comment came from X user chasekr8 who suggested that Haliburton looked like “a high ranking officer in a govt where Cookie Monster is in charge.” 

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