NBA stars pack the house for exhibition
BALTIMORE -- Lockout? What lockout?
With the NBA mired in a bitter labor dispute, some of the league's biggest stars descended on Morgan State University in Baltimore to play an exhibition game Tuesday night.
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."
When James and his teammates of the Melo League finally walked onto the court, they were rushed by autograph seekers and people snapping pictures with personal cameras and cell phones. It set up one of the strangest scenes of a very peculiar night: players taking warmup shots while dozens of fans walked through the lane and under the basket.
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.
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.[+] EnlargePatrick Smith/Getty ImagesCarmelo Anthony scored 27 points Tuesday in front of a packed house at Morgan State University.
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.
Anthony said he and some of the players met with NBA Players Union executive Billy Hunter before the game. He is worried that the NBA regular season will be postponed due to the lockout.
"We want to work it out," Anthony said. "We've got to get the fans what they want, and they want to see basketball. They need that and we need it."
Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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