ORLANDO – In typical fashion, the National Basketball Association (NBA) showcased its annual mid-season act recently, for its fans and casual observers within the public.
And when the mostly play-above-the-rim drama was history in the 61st All-Star game, standout players from the Western Conference high-fived each other on the heels of a 152-149 win, in the arena where the host Orlando Magic play.
Kevin Durant, of the Oklahoma City Thunder, who came into the arena shooting, paced the scoring of the West All-Stars, during a showing that earned him the Most Valuable Player (MVP) trophy. Durant totalled 36 points and hauled down 7 rebounds over the course of a free spirit exhibition that lacked defensive intensity for much of its run.
Although Durant walked away with the hardware which designated him as the featured actor of the fun show, the Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant, with his 27 point contribution to the victorious effort of the Western stars, managed to attach his name to another record in NBA annals.
After starting the game as the fourth highest scorer in All-Star game history, Bryant, in popping in a total that pushed his career sum in the All-Star game to 271 points, replaced arguably the best player ever, Michael Jordan, at the top of the game’s scoring chart.
During postgame comments, Durant, in typical low key fashion, opted to downplay his performance while giving thanks to his All-Star mates.
“It’s a dream come true, “the Oklahoma City star player said, on the awards stand. “These guys behind me tried to feed me the ball. I’m glad we came out on top.”
In a losing cause, the Eastern All-Stars were led in scoring by the Miami Heat duo of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, who dropped in 36 and 24 points, respectively.
And in reflecting on a game he obviously felt wasn’t as close as the final result, James credited his West foes with an all game long better showing.
“They pretty much beat us up all game,” said James, of the play, of the Western Conference All-Stars. “So (at the end), we wanted to make a game out of it. We had an opportunity to tie the game. I’m not happy about losing.”
With the triumph, the Western Conference All-Stars, who set a record for most points (88) in the first half, made it two straight wins over their Eastern Conference foes.