Drake coaches Canada to victory in NBA Celebrity All-Star Game

Canada's first chance to host the NBA's midseason showcase got off to a flying start Friday night, with Drake coaching his nation's team to a 74-63 win over the United States in the All-Star celebrity game.

Toronto singer helping to showcase Toronto event

Drake stands in front of Team Canada's bench before the start of the NBA Celebrity All-Star Game in Toronto on Friday. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

Air balls, comedic bits and the odd quality play — the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game had a little bit of everything Friday night at the Ricoh Coliseum.

Serving as the on-court kickoff to a weekend of festivities building up to Sunday's all-star game, fans were treated to an entertaining mix of characters who delivered a brand of basketball that was high on energy and short on flow.

Actor Jason Sudeikis showed off his shooting touch by burying a long jump shot right from the opening tip. That kicked off a 7-0 run for the American side that ended when tennis player Milos Raonic put Canada on the board with a layup.

Former Raptors star Tracy McGrady received one of the biggest ovations in the pre-game introductions. He got the crowd into it again early in the first quarter by passing the ball to himself off the backboard before laying in a finger-roll.

Many of the actors, musicians and television personalities in the lineup were showing their competitive side despite the dialled-down intensity. Arcade Fire singer Win Butler was taking no prisoners, driving hard to the basket with regularity.

Butler, who was rewarded after Canada's 74-64 victory with the most valuable player award, keyed an 8-0 run that put Canada ahead 20-15 in the early going. Butler finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds.

Raonic wowed the crowd by squeezing in a dunk in the dying seconds of the second quarter to give Canada a 37-28 halftime lead.

There were some funny moments too. The sight of the six-foot-eight McGrady posting up all five foot three of former Raptor Muggsy Bogues drew guffaws.

American coach Kevin Hart tried to give his team a boost by suiting up for the second half. He came trotting out from the locker-room to the theme of "Rocky" and hammed it up with his teammates before taking the court.

Meanwhile, Canadian coach Drake — looking dapper in a resplendent suit — remained on the sideline. The Toronto rapper was presented with a key to the city by Mayor John Tory before the game.

Drake had his share of fans in the 7,800-seat venue, but actor Kris Wu was just as popular on this night. A few hundred fans, many armed with colourful Kris Wu posters, took in the pre-game shootaround and hollered with delight at his every move.

Wu showed he had game on the court, slicing his way through the American defence for a driving layup early in the fourth quarter and giving Canada a 60-53 lead with another bucket moments later.

Actor Stephan James iced the victory with a three-pointer in the final minute. The Canadian team also included former NBA star Rick Fox, television personalities Drew and Jonathan Scott, former WNBA star Tammy Sutton-Brown and actor Tom Cavanagh.

The American team was rounded out by former Raptor Chauncey Billups, WNBA player Elena Delle Donne, Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry and actors Nick Cannon, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Anthony Anderson and Bryshere Gray.

Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista, Raptors all-star guard DeMar DeRozan and two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash helped Drake out with coaching duties.

With files from The Associated Press


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