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West 135, East 120

Feb. 10, 2002 at 10:14 PM   |   Comments

PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- Kobe Bryant upstaged Allen Iverson Sunday as he scored 31 points, many amid a steady chorus of boos, to lead the Western Conference to an easy 135-120 victory over the Eastern Conference in the 51st NBA All-Star Game.

The game was supposed to be a showcase for 76ers superstar guard Allen Iverson, who is Philadelphia's favorite son. But despite wearing Julius Erving's retired No. 6, Iverson was held to five points in his own building and never supplied the electricity that he did last season, when he won MVP honors.

Bryant became the first player since Michael Jordan in 1993 to score 30 points in an All-Star Game. In the second half, he also became the target of bitter fans.

The fans unleashed on Bryant in the second half, serenading him every time he touched the ball. The postgame ceremony in which he was awarded the MVP trophy featured NBA commissioner David Stern being drowned out by "The Sound of Philadelphia."

"I was pretty upset, pretty hurt," Bryant said.

"I felt bad for him," Iverson said. "At a happy moment, at a happy time like that, you just want to enjoy it."

Iverson, who enjoys a love affair with Philadelphia's fickle fans, had some harsh words for them this time.

"I think a lot of people, if they took the time and thought that, What if that was their kid up there?, then it probably would not happen," he said. "You want to try to bring up a reason for it, but for something like that, you just can't find a reason."

There may have been some lingering resentment from last year's NBA Finals, when Bryant's Los Angeles Lakers defeated the 76ers in five games.

But the Lower Merion, Pa., native has been dealing with this sort of treatment longer than that.

"My rookie year, I came out of high school, my first game here, they booed me a little bit, too," he said. "And that really, really hurt, because it was like my homecoming. ... That was very, very hurtful."

Bryant put a hurt on the East, which had won four of the last five All-Star Games. After passing up a potential winning shot in last year's game, he didn't pass up much in this one. He was 12-of-25 from the field and extremely aggressive at the offensive end.

Seattle guard Gary Payton scored 18 points for the West. He was part of a 3-point barrage in the fourth quarter that told the East there would be no miracle comeback this year.

The West made 13-of-30 shots from 3-point range, setting marks for both categories. In the final period, it made seven, including four in a row after the East reduced a 24-point deficit to 100-90 with 9:07 to go.

Iverson, who had scored 51 points in his first two All-Star Games, was remarkably quiet in this one. He came out passing and never got his breakneck offense untracked, making just 2-of-9 shots.

Michael Jordan's return to the All-Star stage was equally flat. The superstar of the Washington Wizards had some moments early on, but stunningly missed a breakaway dunk late in the first quarter.

All five East starters were stuck in single digits. Its best player was Orlando swingman Tracy McGrady, who scored 24 points off the bench.

Bryant scored 23 points in the first half, one off the all-time record. He added eight more in the third quarter and had a chance to join Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain as the only players to score 40 points in an All-Star Game. But he sat down for good with 10:42 left.

By that time, the East had begun its comeback. Milwaukee's Ray Allen hit a 3-pointer to cap a 13-0 burst that made it a 10-point game.

The teams traded 3-pointers for nearly two minutes, but the East could not keep pace. Payton made two around one by Sacramento's Peja Stojakovic before another by Steve Nash of Dallas widened the lead to 112-98 with 7:23 left. Nash and Stojakovic were among a record 10 first-time All-Stars.

Another 3-pointer by Payton made it 125-106 with 3 1/2 minutes to play.

San Antonio's Tim Duncan had 14 points and 14 rebounds and Minnesota's Kevin Garnett added 14 and 12 for the bigger West, which held a 63-51 advantage on the glass. Nash had nine assists and Elton Brand of the Los Angeles Clippers had 10 boards.

Boston's Paul Pierce scored 19 points in is first All-Star Game for the East, which made 9-of-29 from the arc. Allen scored 15 points and Philadelphia's Dikembe Mutombo swept 10 boards.

Once the game began, Bryant and Jordan stole the spotlight.

Bryant was hot early, making three straight shots. His

prettiest play was a crossover dribble that froze New Jersey's Jason Kidd and led to Duncan's hammer dunk. Bryant and Webber added dunks for a 19-12 lead midway through the first quarter.

Jordan fit right in, elbowing referee Jess Kersey after a foul call and chatting up Magic Johnson along the sideline during breaks. After saying he only wanted three shots, he took seven in the first quarter, including one that most fans will never forget.

All alone on a breakaway, the 38-year-old back-rimmed a dunk that flew out of bounds, bringing the East players off the bench and a roar from the First Union Center crowd.

Bryant scored 12 points in the first quarter, which ended with the West holding a 32-24 lead. The second period began with six first-timers on the court and grew to eight just minutes later.

The East got back in it behind McGrady, who made the play of the game. With just under eight minutes left in the period, he dribbled into the lane, tossed the ball off the backboard with his left hand, went around his defender and elevated before catching the carom and windmilling it home.

McGrady scored 11 points in the period, helping the East fight back for a 48-48 tie with 6:41 remaining. But consecutive 3-pointers by Wally Szczerbiak of Minnesota and Nash -- a pair of first-timers -- made it 59-50 with 2:50 to go.

Bryant took over again, scoring four baskets in the last two minutes to extend the halftime margin to 72-55.

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Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

All rights reserved.

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Kobe Bryant, upstaging Allen Iverson,scored 31 points, many amid a steady chorus of boos to lead the Western Conference to an easy 135-120 victory over the Eastern Conference in Sunday's 51st NBA All-Star Game.

The game was supposed to be a showcase for 76ers superstar guard Iverson, who is Philadelphia's favorite son. But Iverson was held to five points in his own building and never supplied the electricity that he did last season, when he won MVP honors.

Bryant became the first player since Michael Jordan in 1993 to score 30 points in an All-Star Game. In the second half, he also became the target of bitter fans.

The Philadelphia fans unleashed on Bryant in the second half, serenading him every time he touched the ball. The postgame ceremony featuring NBA commissioner David Stern was drowned out by "The Sound of Philadelphia."

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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