MVP: Glen Rice, Charlotte
Glen Rice caught fire, Penny, Scottie, and Grant exploited their versatility and Michael Jordan was ... well, Michael Jordan. In the end, the East had just too much firepower, overcoming a 22-point first-half deficit to top the West, 132-120, in the NBA All-Star Game in front of 20,592 excited and appreciative fans at Cleveland's Gund Arena.
Rice, voted the game's Most Valuable Player, set a pair of All-Star Game scoring records and Jordan became the first player in All-Star Game history to achieve a triple-double. Rice, the Charlotte Hornets' swingman and the league's hottest player during the past month, exploded for 20 points in the third quarter as the East turned a 60-57 halftime deficit into a 10-point lead at the end of three quarters.
'97 All-Star Game Highlights:
Jordan, last year's All-Star MVP, continued his assault on the NBA's history books. He found Bulls teammate Scottie Pippen running down the floor for the easy layup late in the fourth quarter for his 10th assist, becoming the first player in league history to notch an All-Star Game triple-double. Jordan finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists.
Held to 2 points on 1-of-7 shooting in the first half, Rice made 8 of 11 field goals in the decisive third quarter, including four three-point field goals. After Vin Baker had given the East its first lead (61-60) since the early going with a pair of dunks to open the half, Rice connected on three consecutive treys, opening up a 10-point lead and capping a 13-0 run to begin the second half. His fourth three of the game extended the lead to 78-63 only 3:43 into the third period.
Not content to to score only from outside, Rice moved inside. He scored his next six points on fastbreaks, throwing down three emphatic dunks, two on feeds from Chris Webber. The third dunk, on a pass from Grant Hill, ended a 15-minute, 35-second stretch during which the West was outscored 60-19.
When he knocked down an 8-foot running jumper with 1:18 left in the quarter, Rice set a new All-Star mark for points in a quarter, bettering the 19 scored by Philadelphia's Hal Greer in 1968.
Hometown favorite Terrell Brandon of the host Cavaliers also put the East in the record books. His trey in the closing minute was the East's 12th three-point bomb of the day, breaking the previous record of 11. The two teams combined for 21 three-pointers, also an All-Star record.
The first half was owned by the West, from the opening tipoff until the midway point of the second quarter, as they opened up a 53-30 lead on the strength of hot shooting from Gary Payton and Eddie Jones. Payton started the scoring for the West with a three. Later in the quarter, he extended the lead to eight, finding open players on the wings for easy jumpers, and followed with a pair of drives to open the lead to 21-13. The Sonics point guard finished the first quarter with seven points and three assists.
By the end of the first quarter, the West extended the lead to 34-21 as Tom Gugliotta, Latrell Sprewell and Jones began to heat up. "Googs," the first player ever (along with teammate Kevin Garnett) to represent the Minnesota Timberwolves in the All-Star Game, made a pair of easy layups, Sprewell found his jumper and Jones did a little bit of everything.
Jones scored all nine West points in a 9-4 run bridging the first and second quarters as the West lead was extended to 41-25. He scored at the line, he scored on a pretty reverse layup, he scored on a putback. He later found Detlef Schrempf with a behind-the-back pass that put the West up 46-25 at the 8:37 mark of the second.
Enter Michael Jordan and Grant Hill. The game's brightest star and his heir apparent returned to the game and shifted the momentum drastically in favor of the East. After a Mitch Richmond three gave the West a 56-34 lead, Hill, Jordan and Penny Hardaway put on the clamps, forcing turnovers and misguided shots at the defensive end. At the offensive end, they combined for 21 points (7 apiece) in a 23-4 scoring run to close the West lead to three, 60-57, at the half, and set the table for Rice to put the game away with his second-half flurry.
Vin Baker and Penny Hardaway each scored 19 points for the East, combining to hit 15 of 22 field goals. Baker had a team-high 12 of the East's 67 rebounds and first-time All-Star Christian Laettner grabbed 11 boards. Hill (11), Brandon (10) and Tim Hardaway (10) were the other double-figure scorers for the East.
For the West, Sprewell led the way with 19 points. Payton posted 17 and paced the West with 10 assists. John Stockton (12), Schrempf (11), Hakeem Olajuwon (11), Shawn Kemp (10), and Jones (10) all broke double figures.