The fans on hand for the NBA’s 62nd annual All-Star game in Houston on Sunday got a great show as the best players from the Eastern and Western conferences unleashed a barrage of points on one another. Yet, key defensive plays down the stretch helped the West edge out the East 143-138 as Chris Paul was named the game’s MVP.
Kevin Durant led all scorers with 30 points in what was expected to be a high scoring affair on both sides of the floor, but Paul’s 15 assists and 20 points gave him the MVP award, while Kobe Bryant blocked not one, but two LeBron James shots in the final quarter as the East attempted to mount a comeback.
“I’m known for my defense. I can defend. I’m pretty smart with my defense,” said Bryant, via ESPN.com.
One of the blocks created a huge swing in momentum as Bryant rejected James’ jump shot that would have pulled the East to within six points with three minutes to play. The ball then bounced right into the hands of Durant, who took it in for an uncontested dunk to put the East away.
“It was a great block,” Durant said. “I haven’t really seen any MVP get a jumper blocked like that. It was a really great play.”
Interestingly, Michael Jordan – who celebrated his 50th birthday on the same night as the game – said earlier in the week that he would pick Kobe Bryant for his team over LeBron James. That comment sparked a heated debate among basketball fans, but with Bryant getting the better of James on Sunday night, maybe Jordan was right? In light of the blocks, James still had a nice outing with 19 points and 5 assists on the evening.
Houston’s own James Harden also enjoyed a good first All-Star showing, as he scored 15 points and collected six rebounds off the bench. Blake Griffin of the Clippers added 19 points and Russell Westbrook and Tony Parker contributed 14 and 13 respectively.
Carmelo Anthony led the way for the East with 26. Dwyane Wade was the top representative of the Miami Heat with 21 points on 10-of-13 shooting, while Chris Bosh struggled, scoring just six points in 23 minutes.
The win makes three in a row for the Western Conference, but don’t think that the East won’t come back strong next year, especially considering James and Co. will be looking to avenge their defeat in 2013.