*As the NBA lockout forges on, some of the league’s biggest ballers continue to take matters in their own hands and play anyway. The latest – an all-star exhibition game at Morgan State University in Baltimore. [Scroll down for ESPN's recap.]
Kevin Durant, representing the Washington D.C.-based Goodman League, scored a game-high 59 points, but his team lost 149-141 to Carmelo Anthony’s Baltimore-based Melo League squad, which included Anthony, LeBron James and Chris Paul.
James scored 32 and Anthony finished with 27. Paul added 16 and several jaw-dropping assists.
Durant and James went at each other for most of the game, with Durant getting past James for a baseline dunk in the first half. But James scored 13 in the third quarter, including six straight at one point, to help the Melo League team take control in front of roughly 4,000 fans at the near-capacity Hill Field House.
“I think it’s great, you know, got a high school feel to it,” James told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols. “… KD is a great player and we’re just out here having fun.”
The game was every bit like an NBA All-Star Game in that it featured big-name players wearing generic uniforms and showing very little effort on the defensive end.
Fellow pros Josh Selby (16 points) and Gary Neal (17) also suited up with Anthony’s team. Austin Daye and Jarrett Jack played with Durant’s. Daye had 23 and Jack finished with 13.
Paul said the game was “one of the most fun games I’ve been a part of in a long time. … A lot of people got an opportunity to see us up close and personal who may not get the chance to see us at other times.”
The exhibition was the latest — and most star-studded — in a series of summer league games featuring some of the biggest names in the NBA.
On Aug. 20, a team from the Washington D.C.-based Goodman League featuring Durant topped Brandon Jennings and others from the Los Angeles-based Drew League, 135-134, at Trinity University in Washington D.C.
Earlier in the summer, Durant scored 66 points during a thrilling performance in the Entertainer’s Basketball Classic at Harlem’s famed Rucker Park. He also went head-to-head with Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley at the Dyckman League in Washington Heights.
James and Kobe Bryant have competed separately at the Drew League in Los Angeles.
The games have drawn national attention because the NBA players and owners have been are engaged in labor dispute. Representatives from the players and owners are scheduled to meet on Wednesday, for the just the second time since the lockout began on July 1.