The 61st Annual NBA All-Star Game is in the books and it was a good one. The 2012 All-Star Game from Orlando was exciting and historic. It featured big time scoring, powerful dunks, and a couple of broken records.
The Western Conference All-Star team won the opening tap and put up 5 quick points by Bryant, Durant and Griffin respectively. The West was even playing defense with Bynum blocking a big shot by Dwight Howard. The tone was being set early on by the West that this game was about more than fun. Kobe Bryant aggressively scored in a blatant effort to become the highest scorer in All-Star Game history. Bryant came into the game trailing Oscar Robertson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Michael Jordan on the All-Star scoring list with 244 total points. Jordan set atop the All-Star scoring list with 262 points.
The Eastern Conference produced a couple of spectacular highlights from LeBron James and Andre Iguodala but fell behind by double digits in the first half. At halftime the Western Conference All-Stars held a 88-69 lead.
In the third quarter Dwyane Wade unnecessarily hard fouled Kobe Bryant causing his nose to bleed. I thought this was an All-Star game? James joined in the fun by fouling Thunder forward Kevin Durant aggressively. Things never quite got testy but the competitiveness was apparent among both teams.
Bulls guard Derrick Rose hit a couple of three-pointers to bring the East back within striking distance but the West kept their foot on the pedal when Kobe Bryant dunked on a breakaway to pass Michael Jordan and become the all-time leading scorer in All-Star Game history.
At the start of the fourth quarter the West led the East 124-112. Heat forward LeBron James drilled a long three-pointer to make it a three point game. A steal by Nets guard Deron Williams brought the East within one with just under a minute to go.
Dwyane Wade fumbled an outlet pass out of bounds that would have put the East up for the first time in the game. Clippers forward Blake Griffin rebounded a missed reverse lay up by Russell Westbrook to put the West up by three.
Dwyane Wade was fouled and made two free throws with 22.8 seconds on the clock and a one-point Western Conference lead.
Kobe Bryant was fouled intentionally and split the free throws. Dwyane Wade rebounded Kobe’s miss which gave him a triple double of 24 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. Wade’s triple double made him the third player in All-Star Game history to notch a triple double behind Michael Jordan and LeBron James.
The West was up 151-149 with 16.3 seconds to go when LeBron James hit Nets guard Deron Williams with a pass and Williams misfired on a three. The ball was tapped back to the East and James threw an ill-advised pass to Clippers forward Blake Griffin. Griffin was fouled with 1.1 seconds left on the game clock.
“When I tried to throw it late, that’s what usually happens and it results in a turnover,” James said. “Definitely wish I could have that one back.”
Griffin missed the first free throw but nailed the second. The score was 152-149 when Coach Tom Thibodeau called a 20 second time-out to draw up a play. Dwyane Wade’s number was called and the Heat guard threw up a prayer of a three-pointer that was short giving the victory to the Western Conference 152-149.
Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder was named the games MVP with 36 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals.
“It was fun,” Durant said.“That’s the type of All-Star Game you want to see.”
What started out as a blowout ended up being a barn burner. There were big shots, spectacular dunks, and even a little defense played by the game’s best players.
Some events during All-Star Weekend missed their mark but the 2012 All-Star Game delivered. The NBA continues to do the All-Star Game better than other All-Star Game in sports.
“It’s fun,” Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said of All-Star Weekend.“You get a chance to be around your peers, talk trash a little bit and have fun.