HOUSTON (AP) — Kevin Durant scored 30 points, while game MVP Chris Paul had 20 points and 15 assists as the Western Conference beat the East 143-138 on Sunday in the NBA All-Star game.
Blake Griffin finished with 19 points and Kobe Bryant blocked LeBron James twice in the final minutes, that duo joining Paul to turn the West’s victory into something of an L.A. story.
James scored 19 points but shot only 7 of 18, contrasting with his recent hot shooting for the Miami Heat. Bryant blocked two of his shots late.
Carmelo Anthony led the East with 26 points and 12 rebounds.
“We played really good defense at the end of the game as a team,” Durant said. “Kobe was really going with the ball. It’s tough to stop LeBron, but he did his best. He was able to block a few of his shots. But CP did a really good job of keeping us in the game.”
The first dunk of the game came 16 seconds in, Paul throwing a pass to Griffin as part of the West’s 7-0 start. The West led after each of the first three quarters, though was never ahead by more than eight points through three periods.
They finally pushed it into double figures early in the fourth fueled by former Oklahoma City teammates Russell Westbrook and James Harden, but couldn’t put it away until a late run behind the guys from the city of Los Angeles — who along with Lakers center Dwight Howard gave Los Angeles teams all but one of the West’s starting spots.
Paul hit two 3-pointers, Bryant made a layup, and his block of James led to Durant’s dunk that made it 136-126. Griffin had one last forceful dunk to help close it out, throwing a pass to himself off the backboard and climbing high to make it 142-134.
The Bryant-James duel was a good one between the two players who are most often compared to Michael Jordan, who turned 50 on the day.
“It was all in good spirit, man. It was just two guys that love to compete, love to go at it. So I had a lot of fun,” James said.
Bryant finished with only nine points but had eight assists. Griffin shot 9 of 11 from the field and didn’t miss until trying to violently throw one down from a few feet away from the basket.
Indiana’s Paul George scored 17 and Kyrie Irving had 15 for the East.
Not everybody had it so easy. Chris Bosh shot two airballs in the first quarter and was booed, tossed up another in the second, and had Tony Parker dribble the ball through his legs on defense. He was pulled after Bryant blew right by him for a layup.
Bosh finished 3 of 9. Wade had 21 points on 10-of-13 shooting, the best performance of the three Heat players in the starting lineup.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.