Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook poured in 41 points to lead the Western Conference to a 163-158 victory over the East on Sunday in a record-setting NBA All-Star Game.
The total points scored in the 64th edition of the mid-season showcase surpassed last year’s 163-155 Eastern Conference win for the highest-scoring NBA All-Star Game in history.
Westbrook earned Most Valuable Player honors as he fell one point shy of the All-Star game record of 42 set by Wilt Chamberlain back in 1962.
Westbrook’s 27 first-half points were a record for an All-Star half and he closed out the contest with two free throws — a rarity on a night when spectacular offensive moves were the order of the day and defense was conspicuously absent.
The Western Conference’s 25 three-pointers were the most ever for one team in an All-Star Game, and the combined 48 three-pointers from both teams were also a record.
“It’s amazing,” Westbrook said after he accepted the MVP trophy from NBA commissioner Adam Silver.
“I came out and made a few shots and when I made a few shots, I stayed aggressive,” Westbrook added.
In fact, Westbrook made a dazzling eight of his first nine attempts and finished by connecting on 16 of 28 from the floor.
Westbrook, who has had to shoulder the load in Oklahoma City at times this season with reigning NBA MVP Kevin Durant missing 27 games so far because of injuries, said he was looking forward to the rest of the campaign.
Regular-season games will resume on Thursday.
Houston’s James Harden, the league’s leading scorer heading into the All-Star break added 29 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the West, who built a 20-point lead in the first half only for the East to trim the deficit to one point at the interval.
The score was knotted at 148-148 with just over four minutes remaining when the West pulled away.
LaMarcus Aldridge contributed 18 points and Stephen Curry provided 15 points, nine rebounds and five assists in the triumph.
– James leads East –
Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James led the East with 30 points.
In the first half James surpassed the legendary Michael Jordan for second on the all-time All-Star scoring list and is now two points shy of matching Kobe Bryant’s record of 280 career All-Star Game points.
He scored 15 of his 22 first-half points in the first quarter — starting with two emphatic dunks, the first a two-handed jam off a lob from John Wall.
Atlanta, which holds the Eastern Conference’s best record at 43-11, had all four of its All Stars in at once at times.
Kyle Korver led the foursome with 21 points.
A layup by Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving tied the game at 148-148 with 4:19 to play.
The West responded by scoring seven straight points, including a three-pointer from Harden and two jump shots by the Los Angeles Clippers’ Chris Paul.
Westbrook’s three-pointer then stretched the margin to 158-149 and the East didn’t threaten down the stretch.
Spain’s Pau and Marc Gasol made a bit of All-Star Game history as the first brothers to start the contest.
The two took the opening tip-off, with Chicago’s Pau beating younger brother Marc of the Memphis Grizzlies for the ball.
“It was cool to win the jump ball,” said Pau, who finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds while Marc had six points and 10 rebounds. – Agence France-Presse