West beats East 148-143 to top exciting, eventful 2011 All-Star Weekend
The 60th NBA All-Star Game was held Feb. 20 in Los Angeles and resulted in the West earning its 24th All-Star win in a 148-143 shootout.
The West started off strong, building on Kobe Bryant’s 21-point first half to lead 76-64 going into halftime. Bryant appeared to be the odds-on favorite to take home the MVP trophy…until the second half started.
LeBron James, who had just six points at halftime, rallied his Eastern All-Star squad for a huge fourth-quarter push after the West had extended its lead to 17 going into the fourth. James (29 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists) and Amar’e Stoudemire (29 points) pulled the East to within two points with just 2:34 left to play, but Kevin Durant (34 points) took the scoring load off Bryant at the end, holding the East at bay by hitting big shots down the stretch.
James recorded just the second triple-double in All-Star Game history (Michael Jordan, 1997) but it wasn’t enough as Bryant’s 37 points and 14 rebounds garnered him his fourth All-Star Game MVP, tying him with Bob Pettit for most all time.
Bryant’s 37 points were good enough for fourth-most in an All-Star Game.
In injury news, Dwyane Wade sprained his right ankle in the third quarter and did not return as a precaution.
Griffin wins best Slam Dunk Contest in years
Blake Griffin was widely regarded as the favorite in this year’s Sprite Slam Dunk Contest, and the rookie big man from the Clippers did not disappoint, taking home the hardware with 68 percent of the fan vote in the final round. However, he did not run away with the trophy as many had predicted.
Griffin held off Wizards center JaVale McGee in the finals by first throwing the ball off the backboard before catching it and dunking it by putting his arm through the rim a la Vince Carter in 2000 and then jumping over the hood of a Kia Optima for his final dunk. That proved to be enough to top McGee, who earlier had performed a nifty reverse rock-the-cradle.
But most of the highlights were made in the first round. That’s where McGee dunked on two baskets at once and dunked three basketballs at once (one caught on a lob), DeMar DeRozan executed a sick one-handed up-and-under reverse slam and added a toss off the side of the backboard element to Isiah Rider’s “East Bay Funk Dunk”, Serge Ibaka dunked from behind the free throw line and rescued a child’s teddy bear from the rim with his mouth, and Griffin had a nice two-handed 360-degree dunk.
DeRozan’s one-handed up-and-under dunk and McGee’s dunk on two baskets were the only ones to receive scores of 50 from the panel of judges, made up of Clyde Drexler, James Worthy, Brent Barry, Dominique Wilkins, and Julius Erving.
James Jones surprises all, wins 3-Point Shootout
James Jones of the Miami Heat scored a 20 in the final round of the Foot Locker 3-Point Shootout to beat out fellow finalists Ray Allen and defending champion Paul Pierce for the title.
Jones scored a 16 in the first round, behind Allen’s 20 and ahead of Pierce’s 12, to advance. Golden State’s Dorell Wright (11), Cleveland’s Daniel Gibson (7), and Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant (6) did not advance.
Allen and Pierce, both Celtics, were booed by the pro-Lakers crowd.
Curry takes home Skills Challenge title
Golden State’s Stephen Curry beat out Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook in the final round to win the Taco Bell Skills Challenge. Curry posted a time of 28.2 seconds in the final round, and Westbrook’s struggles with the jump-shot portion of the course secured Curry’s first-ever win in the event.
Curry and Westbrook outlasted fellow point guards Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, and John Wall to advance past the first round.
Rookies top Sophomores for second straight year
John Wall had 12 points and a Rookie Challenge record 22 assists to lead his rookie squad to a 148-140 win over the sophomores and take home the MVP.
DeMarcus Cousins added 33 points and 14 rebounds, and Blake Griffin chipped in 14 points in limited minutes to secure the win.
The sophomores were led by James Harden’s 30 points and DeJuan Blair’s 28 points and 15 rebounds.
Sacramento’s Tyreke Evans did not play due to injury.
Odds and ends
By: Eric Lorenz
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