Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) – Kobe Bryant won his record-tying fourth All-Star Game MVP award, scoring 37 points with 14 rebounds as the West held on for a 148-143 victory over the East on Sunday.
Bryant received the loudest cheers during pre-game introductions at Staples Center, where his Lakers play their home games. He then scored 21 of his points in the first half as the West built a lead it never gave up despite a late East rally led by Miami’s LeBron James and New York’s Amare Stoudemire.
“Being at home, I wanted to come out hard and put on a good show,” said Bryant, who tied Bob Pettit for the most MVPs in All-Star game history.
He had help. Oklahoma City star Kevin Durant scored 34 points for the West, including 14 in the fourth quarter when Bryant only had three.
Their teammates fared well, too: Pau Gasol of the Lakers had 17 points and the Thunder’s Russell Westbrook scored 12, both off the bench.
James and Stoudemire made pushes for the MVP award, sparking a rally that cut the East’s deficit from 16 points to two in less than four minutes late in the fourth quarter.
James had 29 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists to join Michael Jordan as the only players to post a triple-double in the All-Star Game. Stoudemire also scored 29, leading seven East players who landed in double figures in a game that featured a combined 237 shots by both teams.
Miami’s Dwyane Wade went out in the third quarter after aggravating an ankle injury, scoring 14 points before he left. Heat teammate Chris Bosh also had 14 off the bench.
Durant dunked to give the West a 134-118 lead with 6:23 remaining in the game — a safe enough margin even in an All-Star Game.
But the East scored 17 of the next 20 points, with James getting seven and Stoudemire scoring four. James hit a pair of free throws to get his team within 137-135 with 2:34 remaining.
Durant kept the West above water, scoring five straight points punctuated by a three that made it 142-135. Stoudemire, who has made 24 three-pointers in his nine-year NBA career, countered with a long ball at the other end and James scored on a layup to make it a two-point game again.
But Lakers teammates Bryant and Gasol took over during a brief stretch after that. Gasol tapped in a putback, and both players battled for a rebound that led to Chris Paul’s free throws for a 146-140 lead with just 18.9 ticks left on the clock.
Boston’s Ray Allen — 10 days after setting the league’s all-time record for three-pointers made — drilled one from the left corner at the other end, but Durant sealed the win with a pair of free throws.
After 60 All-Star games, the East still leads the all-time series by a 36-24 margin.
“We had fun,” said Stoudemire, “and that was the most important thing.”
Bryant stole the spotlight back from Blake Griffin, the LA Clippers rookie who won Saturday night’s dunk contest by leaping over a car. Griffin scored eight points in 14 minutes, saying that he hasn’t been so tired since training camp.
Afterward, Bryant said his time as the NBA’s top star was over — the game belongs to players like Durant and Griffin.
“What you saw tonight was me being around young players,” Bryant said. “It energized me.”
Durant scored 15 points in the first half, overshadowed by Bryant’s 21, and the West rolled to a 76-64 lead at the break after taking 68 shots in the opening 24 minutes.
As much as these things matter in an All-Star game, the West built its lead on the back of one key run.
Bryant buried a three-pointer to spark an 11-2 burst in the middle of the first quarter. Gasol capped the run with a dunk, making it 21-10, and the West carried a 37-27 lead into the second.
The advantage ballooned as high as 14 points when a layup by Westbrook made it 41-27. The East cut its deficit to six points four times, but still trailed by 12 at halftime despite getting 12 points from Bosh and 10 apiece from Wade and Stoudemire.
Bryant scored 13 points in the third quarter and the West carried a 117-100 lead into the fourth. Fittingly, the West reached 100 points while there was still 5:04 left in the third on a Bryant dunk.
“Playing with Kobe, it was like playing at the playground,” said Durant. “Playing alongside him was an honor … It felt like I belonged.”
Jordan had 14 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in 1997…Bryant was the leading vote-getter with more than 2.38 million tallies. He missed last year’s All-Star Game with an ankle injury. He was the youngest All-Star in NBA history in 1998 and earned the MVP award in 2002 and 2007 and co-MVP along with Shaquille O’Neal in 2009…Rihanna performed the halftime show on her 23rd birthday, with appearances by Drake and Kanye West…Wade said afterward: “I’ll be fine. It was an All-Star Game. I didn’t want to do too much.”