West Wins – Kobe MVP
Kobe Bryant scored 37 points and equaled a record with his fourth All-Star game Most Valuable Player award, leading the Western Conference to a 148-143 victory over the East on Sunday.
Returning to the game he dominates after a one-year absence, Bryant added 14 rebounds in a spectacular performance in front of the usual celebrity-filled crowd that turns out to see his Lakers at Staples Center.
“It feels great, being at home here and playing in front of the home crowd,” Bryant said after receiving the MVP trophy. “This will be my last All-Star game in front of these home fans, so it feels good to do it.”
Kevin Durant chipped in 34 points, scoring five straight after the East cut a 17-point deficit after three quarters to two points with 2:34 to play. The NBA scoring leader added the clinching free throws after the East got back within three in the final seconds.
LeBron James powered the East rally, finishing with 29 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists to join Michael Jordan as the only players with a triple-double in the All-Star game. Amare Stoudemire also scored 29, but Miami’s Dwyane Wade, the MVP of the East’s win last year, had to leave with an ankle injury after scoring 14.Plenty of Hollywood A-listers were sitting courtside, but Bryant’s popularity here can rival most of them. This week, he became the first athlete to have his handprints and footprints put in concrete outside Hollywood’s famed Grauman’s Chinese Theater.
He told fans to “enjoy the show” before the tip off, and as always he delivered a good one.
Always more about focus than fun, Bryant had 21 points by halftime, putting him halfway to Wilt Chamberlain’s record from 1962, the year of his 100-point game.
“You could tell he started out from the start, he wanted to get the MVP,” Stoudemire said. “He was not passing the ball, at all. But that’s Kobe.”