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Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012

West holds on for win in NBA All-Star Game

AP

ORLANDO, Florida — The Kevin and Kobe show won it for the West at the NBA All-Star Game, holding off LeBron James at the end.

News photo
Throw it down: Western Conference All-Star Russell Westbrook goes up for a dunk during the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday in Orlando, Florida. The West defeated the East 152-149. AP

They got an MVP and a scoring record, too.

Bryant scored 27 points, moving past Michael Jordan as the career scoring leader in the game, Kevin Durant had 36 in an MVP performance, and the Western Conference held on for a 152-149 victory over the East on Sunday night.

James and the East cut a 21-point deficit to one in the closing seconds, but weren't able to move in front. James had 36 points and fellow Heat star Dwyane Wade finished with a triple-double.

"With all these great players on the floor, you never know what will happen. Guys making big shots and they cut it down to one. We were up 18 (at halftime)," Durant said.

"It was fun. That's the type of All-Star Game you want to see."

Clippers star Blake Griffin scored 22 points for the West, which rang up 89 points in the first half, setting an All-Star record. But he won the game with his defense, picking off James' pass when the East had a chance to tie in the final seconds.

"I can't turn the ball over like that," James said. "I let my team down, but overall it was a great weekend."

Griffin then hit one free throw with 1.1 seconds left, and Wade was off on a 3-point attempt from the corner. He finished with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, joining Jordan and James as the only players with All-Star Game triple-doubles.

Durant was the MVP, leaving Bryant tied for the All-Star record with his four. But he got a bigger mark in his 13th All-Star Game.

He broke Jordan's record of 262 points on a dunk with 4:57 left in the third quarter and now has 271 for his career.

"That record he got tonight, with KD in the league, I don't know how long it's going to last," Wade said.

It nearly wasn't enough, as the East's comeback had the crowd, filled with entertainers and athletes, chanting for defense — never a part of the All-Star Game vocabulary — in the final seconds.

With Bryant covering him, James hit two long 3-pointers in the final period, and the East had a chance when Bryant, with the crowd loudly booing, missed a free throw with 18 seconds left and the West up 151-149.

But New Jersey's Deron Williams was short on a 3-pointer, and after the East came up with it, James fired a pass into a crowd that Griffin intercepted.

Orlando's Dwight Howard had nine points and 10 rebounds as the game's host.

The All-Star Game was the first in the 2-year-old Amway Center, considered by many the finest arena in the league. The NBA's midseason showcase hadn't been to Orlando since the memorable 1992 game, when Magic Johnson was MVP three months after retiring from the league because of the HIV virus.

The game wasn't close after 2½ quarters. But players always say it gets competitive in the final five minutes, and James was up for the challenge.

He hiked his scoring average to 25.9 points over his eight All-Star games, and someday he'll probably take the record Bryant set Sunday.

But he couldn't quite catch Kobe in the game.

"Being a competitor, no matter All-Star Game or not, you don't want to get blown out," James said. "Of course not, when you're going against your peers and you're going against great players and you're playing with great players. I just wanted to try to pick it up and see if we could make a run at it, and we did."



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