Kevin Durant was the brightest shining star in Orlando on Sunday night, amassing 36 points, seven rebounds and three steals to lead the West past the East in a thriller, 152-149, in the 61st edition of the NBA All-Star Game at the Amway Center. Durant, 23, is the youngest MVP in All-Star Game history and was six points shy of the all-time scoring high.
Durant's performance was impressive, without a doubt, but he wasn't the only one to have his name written in the record books. It seemed as if records were being broken left and right, with seemingly everyone sharing in the overall success. The 301 combined points is the most in All-Star Game history and the 88 points scored by the West in the opening half was the most ever. The two squads also combined to make a record 26 three-pointers.
Kobe Bryant etched his name further into the records, passing one Michael Jordan to move into first place on the all-time All-Star Game scoring list. Bryant had 27 points on 9-of-17 shooting in 35 minutes and now has 271 career points in the All-Star Game. Bryant passed Jordan on a breakaway dunk with 4:57 left in the third quarter. Jordan, now second on the all-star scoring list, had 262 points while Kareem Abdul-Jabaar had 251 points.
Durant and Bryant set the game ablaze in the early minutes, combining for 21 points in the opening eight minutes to propel the West to an early 32-34 lead by the 1:39 mark. The combined efforts of Durant and Bryant in the first half led to an astonishing 88-69 halftime lead, with Durant scoring 21 and Bryant pouring in 14 points in the first 24 minutes.
As expected, it wasn't over yet. LeBron James (36 points, seven assists, six rebounds) and Dwyane Wade (24 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) led a furious second-half comeback that saw the East nearly erase its 19-point halftime deficit and brought the team within one point, 148-147, after a layup from Deron Williams (20 points) with 1:40 remaining.
Bryant missed a 15-footer with 1:21 to go and Dwight Howard (nine points, 10 rebounds) grabbed the board and chucked the ball downcourt to a streaking Wade, who fumbled the ball out of bounds on what should have been an easy layup that would have given the East their first lead of the game.
Wade was able to get some redemption, grabbing an offensive board after a missed Carmelo Anthony (19 points) three after Blake Griffin's layup put the West ahead, 150-147, before being fouled by Russell Westbrook (21 points) with 22 ticks to go. Wade made both free throws and fouled Bryant with 18 seconds to play.
Bryant made the first free throw but surprisingly missed the second, leaving the West lead at 151-149 with 16 seconds remaining. After a timeout, the East went for the win, but Williams missed a 27-foot three at the eight second mark but got his own rebound before finding James, who coughed the ball up on a poor pass that was picked off by Griffin.
Griffin drained the second free throw after missing the first, giving the East one last chance to tie the game after a timeout. Wade, however, missed a desperation twisting three in the corner at the buzzer, sealing the West win.
Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo were the only two representatives for the Boston Celtics, and neither played well. Pierce finished with three points on 1-of-8 shooting in 11 minutes while Rondo had two points and eight assists in 16 minutes. Pierce was making his 10th All-Star appearance, which was the most of any East player who appeared in this year's game.