Stars Were Out in Celebrity Game
By Matt Wurst, NBA.com
Layne Murdoch/NBAE/Getty Images
Nelly, MVP of the 2006 celeb game, couldn't help the East to a win in 2007.
West topped the East in clash of the cultural elite
There were plenty of highlights and, yes, many lowlights at the McDonald’s NBA All-Star Celebrity Game Presented by 2K Sports. But in the end, it was still all about the hoops and there was plenty of fun to go around.

The West squad, led by 2007 Celebrity Game M.V.P. and entertainment reporter Tony Potts and rapper Bow Wow, surged ahead of the East in the second quarter and never looked back en route to a 40-21 victory.

It was a night where many of the entertainers who are in town for NBA All-Star Weekend got a chance to do some entertaining of their own. And with NBA stars Tracy McGrady, Amare Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer and Dwight Howard packed into Center Court at the NBA All-Star Jam Session presented by adidas at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, you know they had to be impressed.

Well maybe that's a stretch, but at least they were entertained.

Starting for the East were "Scrubs" star Donald Faison, NFL All-Pro LaDainian Tomlinson, actor Michael Clarke Duncan, WNBA star Katie Smith and reigning Celebrity Game Most Valuable Player Nelly. The starters for the West were NFL superstar Reggie Bush, actor James Denton, WNBA All-Star Tamika Catchings, Potts and Bow Wow. So what was each team's game plan coming in?

During pre-game shootaround, the East coaches finally got to see what their team could do and talked over some strategy. Coach Tim Legler and Assistant Coach and Grey’s Anatomy star James Pickens Jr. planned on feeding big-man Michael Clarke Duncan in the post every time down the floor.

"He's got the fundamentals like another Duncan, Tim Duncan," Legler said. "Also, in crunch time, the ball is going to Katie Smith. She's a world champion," he said. "She has tremendous experience behind her and knows all the little tricks that veterans pull... like writing her initials on her shooting shirt prior to the game in hopes of getting to keep it afterwards."

"I have gifts to give when I get back home," the 2007 WNBA champion said.

Of course, Pickens skirted around the really important question that we all wanted answered after last night's dramatic twist on the show -- whether or not Dr. Meredith Grey is really dead?

"You gotta wait and see, baby," the comely television star said.

Over on the West side, Indiana Fever forward Tamika Catchings admitted that their team had no strategy coming in, but heard good things about New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush's game.

"Let it fly and let Reggie shoot. Our coaches just told us that we better win," the WNBA star said.

The East stuck to its plan in the first possession and looked to get the ball to down low to Duncan. But the West was hip to the plan and double- and even triple-teamed him in the post. The star of Talladega Nights and the Green Mile never recovered.

"That was the difference in the game," winning coach Greg Anthony said. "I knew Legler was going down to Duncan. He probably thought he had Tim Duncan on his team. Wrong Duncan. Not all black people look the same, Tim. Once we disrupted their strategy, it was easy going from there."

The two teams felt each other out early on, trading leads in the opening three minutes of the game. Donald Faison opened the scoring with a big free throw, which was then answered by a 12-foot jumper from M.V.P. Potts.

Katie Smith gave the East an early lead on a put-back, the last lead they would have all night, but then Bow Wow took over for a stretch and led the West on a run in the waning minutes of the first quarter. The dimunitive rapper and entertainer proved that while he may be Lil, his bite is quite big in scoring six of the first eight points for the West in the opening stanza.

While this game did not yield the offensive firepower that the thousands in attendance were hoping for, both teams can be credited with strong individual and help defense, not to mention fierce pressure that forced a high number of turnovers and missed shots. The East's Chris Tucker even played great defense on himself, forcing himself out of bounds at one point.

As we know, Chris Tucker always performs well on Friday.

But Potts really earned his M.V.P. honors in the second quarter as he continued the onslaught for the West. He scored two baskets in transition and looked like the most comfortable player on the floor all night long. When Tucker hit a baseline jumper to stop the bleeding and breathe some life back into the East midway through the second quarter, Potts hit another jumper and the lethal Reggie Bush hit consecutive 3-pointers to give the West its first double-digit lead of the game. On the other side, his fellow NFL star struggled mightily from the floor.

"For some reason, it was not as easy to score in this game as it has been for me on the football field recently," San Diego Chargers running back and East team member LaDainian Tomlinson said.

At the half, the West had already doubled up on the East and led by a comfy 22-11 margin. The break also gave everyone in attendance a sneak peak at what could be one of the top attractions of All-Star Weekend, the Las Vegas NBA All-Star Dance Team, which may have been the best team on the floor tonight.

During the halftime break, East Coach Tim Legler made several adjustments, including switching to a 2-3 zone. That adjustment seemed to do the trick as the West was held scoreless for nearly five minutes to start the second half. However, the East could not capitalize on the West scoring woes or do much to chip away at the lead, which remained in double digits after three quarters.

The West finally pulled away for good in the fourth quarter behind some nifty passing between Potts, Bow Wow and Donald Faison. And while Potts may have put the final stamp on his M.V.P. bid with the aid of some padded stats from the three throw line late in the blow-out, nothing can take away from his truly being the most deserving of the shiny trophy. Potts, who has also proven himself on the celebrity go-kart race circuit during Super Bowl weekends past, may have a new career in celebrity competitions.

"I was just in the Bahamas for a week and really got to work on my game," he said. "I think I may go back and start working on some other sports now as well."

But Potts readily acknowledged that his team's win was a team effort and acknowedged the play of Bow Wow. Bow Wow quietly believes he was robbed of the M.V.P. Award, but he also realizes it was a team effort.

"This was a team effort," he told to a VH1 reporter after the game.

Also assisting in the West's triumph was Jazz mascot and retired NBA player Jerome Williams, who somehow found their way onto the court and logged playing time. Williams recorded the only slam dunk of the game. Jamie Foxx had to settle for a DNP for the West, but could probably benefit from this extra rest before his big concert tonight.

Among the many other notables in attendance tonight were Giants outfielder Barry Bonds, Mya, Ronald McDonald, tennis legend Boris Becker, Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman with his traveling entourage of showgirls, a handful of WNBA All-Stars and more.