Kevin Durant scored 36 points and took home MVP honors as the Western Conference All-Stars beat the Eastern Conference 152-149 in Orlando, Fla. Sunday night.
The West was leading for most of the game and by 20 points or more for a large portion but the East charged back in the second half with some hot three-point shooting.
LeBron James led the East with 36 points also and made 6-of-8 threes. He did commit the costly turnover in the final minutes trying a skip pass across his body giving the West the opportunity to seal the deal at the free throw line.
By the fourth quarter it really came down to Durant vs. James and whichever team won would determine the player as MVP. Neither was terrific or clutch in the final minutes but they were still the two clear-cut best players in the game.
Kobe Bryant scored 27 points in the game and Russell Westbrook 21 including 17 in the first half.
Dwyane Wade had a triple-double for the East with a 24-10-10 line and Dwight Howard was his usual too laid back self in the All-Star Game scoring just nine points and going 0-for-4 on threes.
The game lacked intensity until the final minutes as is expected but there were quite a few nice highlights in the first half. Chris Paul orchestrated the highlighting attack setting up Blake Griffin for some nice slams.
With Thunder coach Scott Brooks coaching the West, Durant may have had an extra advantage over everyone else to win the MVP. Durant played the entire first and third quarters and totaled 37 minutes in the game. Durant simply has a better knack for scoring than anyone else and is relentless even at half speed to find shots for himself.
The play by Durant and Westbrook should be viewed as a sort of message to the rest of the league. They are the real deal this year and should be considered the team to beat in the West. There’s been a lot of talk by a lot of players and media lately of how the West is wide open and the Thunder should take that personally.
Durant and Westbrook looked as good as James and Wade did tonight and that’s saying something. They’re hungry and gave the fans what they wanted tonight by playing harder than anyone else.