Kobe Bryant seemed to have extra motivation playing in the All-Star Game in front of his home fans in Los Angeles, as he put up a game-high 37 points to go with a game-high 14 rebounds. He led the West to an exciting 148 to 143 win, and in the process won his fourth ASG MVP, tying Bob Pettit’s 39-year-old record. The East cut the lead down to two points in the final three minutes, but Kevin Durant hit five straight to build the lead back to seven. The East then scored the next five, to reduce the lead back to two, but a Pau Gasol tip in on the next possession robbed them of the chance to tie the game, and the West made their free throws down the stretch to ice it.
Durant and Bryant were something of a two man show for the West, combining for 71 of the team’s 148 points.
LeBron James, after meandering through the first three quarters, went off in the fourth, with 14 points in the final quarter alone, including a couple of coast-to-coast forays. LeBron finished with a triple double, 29 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. Amare Stoudemire also scored 29 for the East.
Pau Gasol finished with 17 points on 8-of-13 shooting in 24 minutes. Down the stretch, West coach Gregg Popovich went with the four starters that were voted in by the public (Chris Paul, Kobe, Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Gasol. In the end, Pop gave his guy Duncan the start, but recognized that Gasol was deserving of the minutes.
Blake Griffin of the Clippers finished with eight points, five rebounds and five assists. Popovich gave him a bit of the rookie treatment with fewer than 15 minutes of playing time despite the fact that he was playing in front of his own set of fans, and the Staples Center crowd had to resort to a “We Want Blake” chant early in the fourth quarter before Blake made a second half appearance.
But the evening certainly belonged to Kobe. As he said while accepting his MVP trophy, he just “wanted to put on a show.” Indeed he did.