In the highest scoring All-Star game of all-time, the Western Conference smashed the Eastern Conference, 196-173. Russell Westbrook led all scorers in the victorious West squad, and was thus voted the game's most valuable player. This is Westbrook's second straight All-Star MVP award. The last player to accomplish such a feat was Bob Pettit in 1958-59. Westbrook's totals were impressive, as he finished with 31 points on 12 of 23 from the field. Aside from the points, Westbrook registered career All-Star game highs with 7 three pointers made, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 steals. Teammate Kevin Durant also had an extremely strong showing, finishing with 23 points on 11 of 18 shooting. Durant's 7 assists were an All-Star Game career high.
The rest of the West had some threats to Westbrook's MVP candidacy. Steph Curry took five less shots than Westbrook, but had a remarkably similar performance otherwise. Anthony Davis was nearly perfect off the bench, getting some ridiculously easy looks off of the passing of Chris Paul. Even Paul is a legitimate MVP candidate, double doubling with 14 points and 16 assists. Heck, Harden was a candidate too. 23 points off the bench, along with some of his signature moves on the perimeter.
Had the Eastern Conference won, Paul George would have been the easy choice for MVP. George set an All-Star game record with nine threes made, and scored 41 points. The point total is the second largest of all-time, just one point short of Wilt Chamberlain's 42 point record. John Wall was the only other East All-Star to crack 20, scoring 22 points on 10-14 shooting.
Westbrook was clearly looking to score from the outset of this game. The first play off the opening tip was a wide open Westbrook power jam. From there, Westbrook made a name for himself by stealing the ball and getting in transition. On the steal front, Westbrook was able to pick off a couple of lobs thrown by Wade and James. Otherwise, Westbrook had two scores and two assists in transition before sitting down. Westbrook's teamwork with Durant was on full display, as the duo were able to assist each other on three consecutive offensive possessions. That accounted for a 6-0 West run.
As a pair, Westbrook and Durant re-entered the game with 3:35 to go in the second quarter. Westbrook came out hot, dunking in transition and finding Kawhi for a mid-range pull-up. But Westbrook faltered towards the end of the first half. On the final two possessions, Westbrook got called for a travel and had his three blocked by Kyle Lowry. Both of those things happen exceptionally rarely in All-Star games. Meanwhile, KD missed a pair of transition threes.
At the half, the West was actually behind by two. Westbrook had 8 and Durant had 10, but Kawhi led all West scorers with 13.
It was the second half where Westbrook would truly make his mark. All of a sudden, Westbrook's perimeter shot came alive. One of the threes came off Westbrook's own steal on Carmelo Anthony. The other two threes came off passes from KD, and came off back to back possessions. A couple of missed three pointers followed, but Westbrook capped things off with a slam from Kobe in transition. Durant wasn't quiet during this period either, scoring a layup off an offensive rebound, as well as a couple of dunks in transition. When it was all said and done, Westbrook and Durant scored or assisted on all but one basket of a 31-25 West third quarter run.
Durant would re-enter the game with 5:39 to go in the fourth, while Westbrook would re-enter with 4:54 to go. By this point, the West had amassed a relatively safe 20 point lead. At this point, Westbrook was totally out there to just score as many points as he could. Two dunks off of his own rebound. Four missed threes, three of which came from 29 feet or further. And a botched self-alley oop attempt. It was silly, it was messy, but the whole thing was still spectacular to witness.
Durant's ending was a little bit different. Kobe had been chatting with Durant on the sideline for a good portion of the game, and received two passes from Kobe in the final moments. Those two assists were Kobe's last All-Star stats. Durant would score another basket in transition as well.
- Every single All-Star starter slapped Drake's hand during introductions. Every single one except.... Russell Westbrook. Just one more reason to love him. Video below. (Correction: Okay, Kobe didn't slap Drake's hand either.)
- No time for the old trio of Durant Westbrook, and Harden unfortunately.
- I like that one of Al Horford's jumpers received a really loud cacaw from the Arena PA.
- Anthony Davis was the only player to not take a three. He did some serious work with Chris Paul in the post though.
- This game never really tightened up, because it never got close. It was like a track and field exhibition from start to finish.
- I'm sad that the West didn't get to 200 points, just because that would blow my mind. It would also make a bunch of old school non digital scoreboards obsolete.
- I'm wondering how watchable these ultra-high scoring All-Star games will be when the aura wears off. Maybe I'm just grumpy because the East couldn't make it close, though.
Thunder Wonder: Westbrook, who needs to go to the corners more
Thunder Down Under: Durant, the selfless, low-key ally
Thunder Blunder: James Harden, because I just can't let things go
Thunder Plunderer: Paul G3org3
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