Kobe Bryant sees records, and goes for them. He doesn’t care if it’s an All-Star game. He doesn’t care about sharing. He doesn’t care that Kevin Durant is the better played and should get the final shots. Bryant saw a record owned by Michael Jordan, and had to beat it. Like there was any doubt about it.
Bryant ball-hogged his way through the All-Star game, just like in 2011, just hit less shots this time. Kevin Durant, with 36 points, got the MVP award, but the West kept giving the ball to Bryant in the closing minutes, while the Heat, led by LeBron James, were making a ferocious comeback that would have been completed if Dwyane Wade was a little more concentrated.
But back to Bryant, who became the all-time leading scorer in All-Star games with 271 points. In the fourth quarter, when both sides usually turn up the intensity levels, Bryant did what he always does. Like he does for the Lakers. Sees no one, nothing, but the basket. True colors come out during fourth quarters, even in All-Star games. Bryant still commands respect from everyone, who kept feeding him the ball even though he was clearly struggling with Dwyane Wade guarding him.
LeBron James had a huge game, on both ends, but did what he usually does in the final seconds. Gave up on taking the final shot, by trying to force someone else to take it with a difficult pass. He got intercepted, and the East lost in a game they were trailing in all night. With 22 seconds left Wade, who finished with a triple double (24 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists), was alone under the basket, about to give the East their first lead, but let his body continue while he didn’t have control of the ball.
It was a nice preview for a final we could have – The Miami Heat against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Russell Westbrook showed he’s the most athletic point guard in the league, while Durant was impossible to defend. LeBron James? He was just as good as Durant, but he was on the losing side, finishing with 36 points, hitting six from downtown in a season he rarely takes off from beyond the arc.
Deron Williams got the crunch time minutes over Derrick Rose, who is still not completely himself, although he scored at will in the limited time he did spend on court. And finally the host, Dwight Howard. He felt like shooting tres all night, but when he felt like playing defense, no one scored on him. This might be his last All-Star game as an Orlando Magic player, with the rumor mill back on track now that the season’s second half will kick into gear.