We had to sit through a badly mimed Lenny Kravitz performance, a decently entertaining series of player intros and a LeBron James-style chalk toss by the entire Eastern Conference starting squad to get there, but just before 6:00 California time tonight, the 2011 All-Star Game got underway. After one quarter of play, the host Western Conference team leads the East, 37 to 27. The pace has been fast, with about 30 possessions per side, and this being an All-Star Game, I'm obliged to point out that no defense is being played. No one here at Staples Center seems especially troubled by this.
After starting the game with an Amare Stoudemire dunk off a feed from LeBron, the East began suffering from turnover difficulties. Thanks to their better care of the ball and some hot early shooting from Kobe Bryant, who so far leads the contest with 11 points, the West built up a double-digit lead about midway through the period. Fellow Laker Pau Gasol has chipped in six points. For the East, the most potent offensive option has been Chris Bosh, who made all four of his shots in the first period. Other highlights include the entry into the game of all four Celtics (Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo), predictably met with boos from the L.A. locals, and a nice alley-oop from Deron Williams to newly minted dunk champ Blake Griffin.