Russell Westbrook helps West, Kobe Bryant earn All-Star win

By Larry Millson, The Sports Xchange  |  Feb. 15, 2016 at 12:28 AM
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TORONTO -- The cheers at the beginning and the end of the NBA All-Star Game were for Kobe Bryant.

However, the man who helped the Los Angeles Lakers forward go out a winner from his final All-Star Game was Russell Westbrook, who made a little history himself.

Westbrook scored 31 points -- 13 in the third quarter -- and added eight rebounds, five assists and five steals to lead the West to a 196-173 victory over the East.

The performance led to the Oklahoma City Thunder guard winning the game's MVP award for the second year in a row.

"I think everybody in the whole arena, whole room, definitely aspired to see Kobe Bryant in his last (All-Star) Game," Westbrook said. "It's just an honor and blessing to be able to be a part of it and kind of see him on his way out."

The West overcame a 41-point performance by East forward Paul George of the Indianapolis Pacers. George was 9-for-19 on 3-point attempts, with the nine 3-pointers and 19 attempts both All-Star Game records. He was one point away from tying the All-Star Game scoring record set by Wilt Chamberlain in 1962.

Westbrook joins Bob Pettit as the only players in All-Star Game history to win the MVP twice in a row. Petit won the award in 1958 and shared it with Elgin Baylor in 1959.

Bryant, an 18-time All-Star who is retiring at the end of the season, finished with 10 points, seven assists and six rebounds.

"It's like the passing of a generation," said San Antonio Spurs and West coach Gregg Popovich. "He's been such an iconic figure for so long, and he passes it on to that other group of young guys that you saw out there tonight.

"So I'm just thrilled that I was able to be here and see that, just like the other night when he came to San Antonio, I think he hit six threes against us. I was actually thrilled. It was just great to watch him shooting and doing what he does. He's a great one."

In a game where defense was a bad rumor, Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul had 16 assists and 14 points for the West.

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry added 26 points, six assists and five rebounds for the West. New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis had 24 points with six rebounds, and Thunder forward Kevin Durant contributed 23 points, seven assists and five rebounds. West guard James Harden of the Houston Rockets also scored 23 points.

Washington Wizards guard John Wall had 22 points for the East, and Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan had 18 points. Raptors guard Kyle Lowry scored 14 points and dished out 10 assists, and Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond had 16 points and 13 rebounds.

"Well, P.G. (George) and John Wall, they were serious," Cleveland Cavaliers and East coach Tyronn Lue said. "They weren't messing around tonight. They took the game more serious than everybody else did, and you could see the outcome with Paul."

George said, "It would have been a special moment to win it. But really, it was just about coming here and enjoying everyone's -- just enjoying being with these guys, man, and having a good showing."

Westbrook added, "I think it's fun, man. I think it's great for the fans. And I was really, really happy to be a starter. Just blessed, man, and thankful for all the fans and all the people that kind of voted for me, man. I just wanted to go out there and enjoy my time, dance a little bit, smile. I know a lot of people don't see me smile a lot during the season, so I like to smile a little bit during the All-Star weekend and enjoy my time and have fun."

The East led 43-40 after the first quarter, thanks to 14 points from George. Durant and Davis each had 10 points in the period.

The half ended with the West leading 92-90, led by 13 points from San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, who finished with 17.

George led the East with 16 first-half points. Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, Lowry and Wall had 11 points each for the East. James finished with 13 points and seven assists.

The West quickly opened up a 17-point lead with 7:51 to play in the third quarter when Westbrook hit a 3-pointer off a fastbreak. It gave him 11 points in the quarter and 20 for the game.

The East climbed back to within three points with about two minutes left in the third quarter.

Harden's 3-pointer bumped the lead to eight, and Davis got it to 10 with a layup.

Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford hit a 3-pointer off the fastbreak at the buzzer for the East, and the West took a 145-136 lead into the fourth quarter.

Warriors guard Klay Thompson stretched the West's lead to 12 points when he opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer.

Harden hit consecutive 3-pointers to restore the 17-point lead. Curry's 3-pointer got the lead to 21.

NOTES: Atlanta Hawks C Al Horford appeared in his fourth All-Star Game after being invited to replace injured Miami Heat F Chris Bosh, who has a calf injury. Horford was vacationing in the Caribbean when the NBA called, and he arrived in Toronto late Friday night. Bosh was in Toronto when his injury was announced. ... The 18 All-Star appearances by Los Angeles Lakers F Kobe Bryant are one behind the record of C Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. ... Toronto's Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan give the host city two guards in the All-Star Game for the first time in 44 years. Gail Goodrich and Jerry West represented the Lakers at the 1972 All-Star Game in Los Angeles.

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