Monday, February 21, 2011

West Coast Pop

Much to the surprise of a lot of people, the Western Conference defeated the favored Eastern Conference in the 60th NBA All Star Game last night 148-143. What started out slow, somewhat sloppy, and almost lopsided for most of the game turned into a pretty exciting finish. In the early part of the game it was all Kobe Bryant. Energized by the home crowd and the fact that he was one all-star MVP award from tying Bob Petit's record, Bryant did a little bit of everything. He hit from inside, from outside, had some exciting dunks, played decent defense (for an all-star game), and was all over the offensive glass. Through three quarters, the West had what seemed to be a comfortable 117-100 lead. The two sides traded baskets for a while and with about six minutes left in the game, the East finally turned it on. Trailing 134-118, the East went on a 9-0 run to cut the deficit to 7 points. Chris Paul hit a 3 for the West, but the East was unfazed following it up with an 8-0 run to make it a 2 point game with a little over 2 minutes to play. But the NBA's leading scorer Kevin Durant hit a jumper to push the lead back to 4 and after Pau Gasol blocked a shot by Derrick Rose, Kobe found the "Durantula" for 3-pointer pushing the lead back up to 7. But the East would respond again refusing to go down without a fight and Amare Stoudemire, who had just 24 3-pointers in his NBA drilled a three from the top of the arc to cut the deficit back to 4 once again. Then following a Kobe Bryant turnover, Lebron James converted a layup and all of a sudden with just over a minute to play it was 142-140. But Pau Gasol tipped in a Kobe Bryant miss and Chris Bosh missed a wide open 3 pointer and the East was forced to put the West on the free throw line. Chris Paul hit a pair to make it a 6 point game and Kevin Durant followed a Ray Allen 3 with 2 more to ice it. Final score 148-143.

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Kobe was deservedly the MVP finishing with 37 points, tied for the 4th highest total in all star game history, and had 14 rebounds- 10 of them on the offensive end, to go along with 3 assists and 3 steals. Kevin Durant didn't necessarily produce the same highlight reel that Bryant did, but he was the man for the West down the stretch scoring 7 points in the final 2 minutes giving him 34 for the game. Blake Griffin only played 15 minutes for the West but had 8 points 5 rebounds and 5 assists. For the East, LeBron James was the story. James become just the second player in NBA history to record a triple double in an all star game finishing with 29 points 12 rebounds and 10 assists and was a pivotal part of the East's failed comeback as he scored 14 in the final quarter of play. Amare Stoudemire added 29 points in 28 minutes, but he was the only other Eastern Conference player to score over 20.

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Overall, it wasn't a great game. There were a lot of turnovers (21 for the East, 15 for the West), and the two sides combined to hit just 16 of 60 3-point attempts. While the rookie game on Friday night had a number of signature plays, there wasn't really anything in this game that you'd want to talk about at work the next day. LeBron had some impressive drives, and Kobe had some surprising dunks (mostly because before the game he planned to just shoot jumpers), but there wasn't anything to rival John Wall's bounce pass alley-oop to Blake Griffin on Friday night. Honestly, the biggest play of the game was Dwyane Wade rolling his ankle over Deron Williams' foot and being forced to leave the game and not return. Still, the last 6 minutes were exciting and we saw LeBron James and Kobe Bryant at their best with Kevin Durant quietly waiting in the wings. And ultimately, it capped off another impressive all star weekend by the NBA.

The Box Score

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