All-Stars Light Up Scoreboard in West Win
TORONTO – In a fast-paced, three-point filled NBA All-Star game the Western Conference topped the East 196-173, blowing the roof off the previous scoring record.
Last year’s 163-158 finish had been the highest combined point total but 2016’s game outscored that by 48 points. If you saw any defence you might have been watching the wrong game.
Paul George scored a game-high 41 points, matching Russell Westbrook’s effort from 2015, but still shy of Wilt Chamberlain’s longstanding All-Star game record of 42.
George hit nine three-pointers, but was double-teamed down the stretch by the West to prevent his grabbing the record. An MVP for George would have been special in his All-Star return just about 18 months after breaking his leg where it was questioned if he’d ever be the same.
Instead, with the West winning, Russell Westbrook took home the trophy after scoring a team-high 31 including seven three’s. He became the second ever player to win back-to-back All-Star MVP awards and first to do it outright (Bob Pettit won the 1958 MVP and shared the honour with Elgin Baylor in 1959).
DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry played on separate lines for most of the game but shone in their own respects – Lowry dished an East-high 10 assists, and DeRozan threw down some memorable dunks. The least they could do as All-Star hosts in front of their home crowd.
“I think everybody got the feel of the energy that we witness every single night when we play as Raptors players,” said DeRozan. “I think all the guys really got insight on how in tune the city of Toronto and all of Canada is to basketball. So I think just the energy. I think all the guys really enjoyed it.”
LeBron James scored just 13 points and dished 7 assists, but in the process surpassed Kobe Bryant for first on the all-time All-Star game scoring list.
Playing and starting in his 15th and last All-Star showcase, Bryant scored 10 points to finish with 290 total. LeBron now has 291, but downplayed the record and deferred to the man of the hour in Bryant.
“It was just bittersweet being out on the floor with him, knowing the matches between us two are coming to an end soon,” said James. “I know it’s been overwhelming for him over this year, but our fans across the world and here in the States and here in Toronto, as well, has just been paying so much respect. It’s all well deserved. Man, I’m happy that I’ve been along for a small piece of the ride of his journey.”
Not to be cut entirely out of the record-books Kobe passed Michael Jordan for the All-Star record for total steals, just another nod to his career parallel to MJ.
“It’s always the younger generation that comes in and it’s just like the elder statesmen says this younger generation has no idea what they’re doing,” said Bryant. “They’re going to absolutely kill the game.”
Bryant drew a standing ovation when he checked out with just over a minute remaining in regulation from his final All-Star game, a touching moment, but even that finish couldn’t top his Magic and Drake-led intro.
Long live Kobe.