ORLANDO, Fla. — By the final seconds of the fourth quarter on Sunday night, the NBA All-Star Game had morphed into an actual basketball game.
The high-flying exhibition of cross-court passes and alley-oop dunks that define All-Star competition gave way to a competitive contest, one in which Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and Miami Heat forward LeBron James guarded each other in the game’s final minutes, with the outcome on the line.
The West led the entire game and were up by as many as 21 points. But the East made a run in the fourth to cut it to 1 point, before the West closed it out for the 152-149 win.
“It’s just exciting to be named an All-Star, but to step it up another level and become MVP, it’s only something that, as a kid, you dream about,” Durant said.
A first-time All-Star starter, Durant credited his upbringing for helping him achieve his success.
“Coming from where I come from, I didn’t think I’d be here. Everything has just been a blessing to me. I’m excited. I’m taking this back to Oklahoma City with me,” Durant said.
“Guys were making big shots, and they [the East] cut it down to 1 after we were up by 18. It was fun. That’s the type of All-Star game you want to see. I’m glad I won. I’m glad I got MVP.”
“Being a competitor, All-Star game or not, you don’t want to get blown out,” James said.
“Not when you’re going against your peers and you’re going against great players and you’re playing with great players. I just wanted to pick it up and see if we could make a run at it, and we did.”
Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade finished the game with a triple double, scoring 24 points and adding 10 assists and 10 rebounds. He joked about his heavy minutes and playing tough defense on Bryant himself, fouling him so hard that Bryant wound up with a bloody nose.
“Obviously, I didn’t try to draw no blood, but I took a foul,” Wade said.
“Kobe fouled me two times in a row, so he’s still got one up on me. But I’m glad everything was cool and we got back to being competitive and having fun.”
Kobe Bryant, who had 27 points, broke Michael Jordan’s record for the most points scored by a player in an All-Star Game.