East pulls out all the stops to beat West, 163-155, in All-Star game
NEW ORLEANS — Defense won the NBA All-Star game. No joke.
Well, maybe a chuckle is in order.
The East wasn’t exactly hand-in-the-face tough during a game that featured a record 318 points and zero blocked shots, but it did manage to stop the West when it needed to Sunday during the final minutes of a 163-155 victory.
Carmelo Anthony’s record eighth three-pointer was part of a game-ending 10-0 run at the Smoothie King Center that helped the East break the record of 155 points set by the West in 2003.
“I keep telling you guys that great offense beats great defense,” deadpanned East Coach Frank Vogel, the Indiana Pacers’ defensive mastermind who half-jokingly asked his players to get back on defense during a timeout.
The West went scoreless for the game’s final 1 minute 59 seconds, which only seemed like the longest scoring drought in All-Star game history.
So many offensive records were set that Dirk Nowitzki should have to go before Congress to explain being the only player to go scoreless.
The East’s comeback from an 18-point deficit ended a raging debate on Twitter about whether the game’s most valuable player award would go to the West’s Blake Griffin (38 points, six rebounds, two steals) or Kevin Durant (38 points, 10 rebounds, six assists).
It in fact went to the East’s Kyrie Irving after he tallied 31 points, 14 assists and one memorable one-on-one battle with Dwight Howard in the fourth quarter when he accelerated past the Houston Rockets center for a scoop layup.
“The East wanted to win this one,” said Irving, whose team ended a three-game losing streak in the series. “We took this one personal a little bit.”
Anthony also had to be in the MVP conversation after he finished with 30 points, making eight of 13 three-pointers.
Griffin set records for field goals (19, on 23 shots) and field goals in a quarter (nine) while tying Wilt Chamberlain’s 52-year-old record with 10 field goals in the first half.
Of Griffin’s nine field goals in the first quarter, seven were dunks, four of the alley-oop variety.
Did Griffin fear he revived the criticisms of him being just a dunker?
“Yeah, I’m terrified of that,” he said flatly. “I don’t care, man. People are going to say whatever they’re going to say. I just take the points as they come.”
They kept coming and coming. The West reached triple digits with 9:13 left in the third quarter on Griffin’s layup that gave his team a 100-87 lead. Apparently Lawler’s Law — first team to 100 wins — doesn’t hold up in All-Star games.
The East went on to outscore the West, 76-55, the rest of the way. The East’s LeBron James scored 22 points and former USC star DeMar DeRozan had eight off the bench in his All-Star debut.
“Once a team gets hot, especially a team with so many good scorers,” Griffin said, “it’s tough to stop them.”
Griffin’s teammate on the Clippers, Chris Paul, the MVP of last season’s game, had 11 points and 13 assists.
The teams united before the second quarter to sing happy birthday to the legendary Bill Russell, who turned 80 on Wednesday. His name also came up before the game when Lakers star Kobe Bryant was asked about whom he would put on his Mt. Rushmore of the game’s greatest players, a reference to James’ recent statement that he would eventually belong on that list.
“You have to understand I’m an Italian kid,” said Bryant, who sat out the game because of a knee injury, “so I don’t even know how many presidents are on Mt. Rushmore.”
Told there were four, Bryant went with Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and Russell. “That’s impossible to do four, though, man,” Bryant said. “Come on. That’s crazy.”
Not as insane as some of the defense being played Sunday.
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