Posted Feb 18, 2013 3:16 AM
> FINAL: WEST 143, EAST 138
HOUSTON -- Everybody has their comfort zone.
Fish are at home in the ocean, birds in the sky and Kevin Durant in the All-Star Game.
Playing with the best of the best, Durant shows up year after year, does what he does best and makes it look as easy as falling out of bed. The Thunder forward poured in 30 points to top all scorers on Sunday night, leading the West to a 143-138 victory over the East at the Toyota Center.
It was the third consecutive win for the Western Conference and, not coincidentally, Durant became the first player in history to score 30 or more points in three straight All-Star Games.
"I'm shooting a lot of shots -- 24 shots up in 31 minutes," Durant said. "I'm just out there having fun ... I played a lot of street basketball. I played a lot of celebrity games. This is my type of ballgame, up and down."
In the end, though, it was definitely Chris Paul's type of game as the Clippers' point guard played with the ball all night like it was a yo-yo on a string. He made 7 of his 10 shots to finish with 20 points and 15 assists, and for most of the night looked like a maestro conducting a personal symphony and was voted the game's MVP. If Paul wasn't tossing lob passes for six of Clippers teammate Blake Griffin's seven slam dunks, he was dropping off slick feeds as he darted through the lane or dribbling the ball through the legs of an often befuddled Chris Bosh.
Miami's Bosh played the role of hapless shooter on offense and victim on defense for most of the night, hoisting up three air balls in the first half and twice getting beat when Paul and then the Spurs' Tony Parker dribbled the ball right between his legs.
The evening will be partly remembered for a pair of fourth-quarter blocks by Kobe Bryant on LeBron James. The swats brought gasps from the crowd and probably had 50-year-old birthday boy Michael Jordan puffing a little harder on that postgame victory cigar, as earlier in the week he had come down hard in the middle of the "Kobe-or-LeBron?" debate.
It was a game that had the hustling, bustling, sometimes comically appealing subplot of the Bull-in-a-china shop Joakim Noah crashing the boards, chasing down loose balls and even having the temerity to -- oh my -- even try to play defense amid the freewheeling All-Star offensive carnival.
It was the usual star-studded, celebrity-filled atmosphere inside the arena as Alicia Keys performed at halftime and former NBA greats and stars from the world of acting and movies -- Common, Chris Tucker, Kevin Hart, Drake, Snoop Dogg, Ludacris and Jay-Z -- watched from courtside.
Yet the thread that ran through it all was Durant, who like Beyonce in the front row, can increase the wattage of the bright lights just by being in a room.
In four All-Star appearances, Durant now has a career scoring average of 28.8 points, the highest in All-Star history, easily ahead of James' second-place 25.1. In the past three All-Star games, Durant has shot 38-for-72 (.528) and averaged 33.3 points. What made this a special night for Durant was being briefly reunited on the court with his former Oklahoma City teammate James Harden, who now plays for the hometown Rockets.
After spending three seasons together building a team that went to the NBA Finals last season and playing along with Russell Westbrook in winning an Olympic gold medal last summer, a budget decision by the Thunder had Harden suddenly traded on Oct. 27.
"He just told me he missed me in the locker room again," said Harden, who finished with 15 points, six rebounds and three assists. "I miss those guys as well. Just being with them every day, when you leave somewhere, you definitely are going to miss them. This weekend was good for us just to see each other and catch up on good times."
Of course, the good times are always rolling for Durant in the All-Star Game.
"It was fun," he said. "Playing with [Harden] today made me miss him a little bit. I'm happy he was an All-Star, especially in the city he plays in. It was a lot of fun. I didn't want it to be over. It's always great playing with all these guys. They make it fun. It's a blessing to be here."
A fish in the ocean, a bird in the sky. Back in his comfort zone.
-- Fran Blinebury
What: 62nd NBA All-Star Game
Where: Toyota Center Center
Particpants: Complete roster
The stars are coming to Houston on Feb. 17 when the NBA stages the 62nd NBA All-Star Game from the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
In a midseason showcase for the NBA, the 2013 All-Star Game will feature 24 of the league's brightest stars. The five starters for the Eastern and Western Conference's teams will be selected via fan voting while the All-Star reserves will be named by the coaches.
The 2013 All-Star Game will have a high bar to surpass the excitement of last year's game in Orlando that featured Kevin Durant's MVP performance.
NBA All-Star 2013 in Houston will bring together some of the most talented and passionate players in the league's history for a global celebration of the game. This is the third time Houston has hosted the All-Star Game -- the city previously hosted in 2006 and 1989.
Stars come through to finish 2012 All-Star Game with a bang
LeBron James and Kevin Durant engaged in an entertaining back-and-forth where the All-Star Game award exchanged hands roughly 50 times, give or take. Whenever Durant's grip seemed secure on the trophy, LeBron ripped it away. And vice versa.
In the end, Durant's West team walked away on top with a thrilling 152-149 win.
2011 (Los Angeles)
Kobe wins MVP as West holds off East in All-Star Game
Nothing was going to stop Kobe Bryant from a victory in this All-Star game, not on his home floor. Shining brightest again among the stars, Bryant scored 37 points and tied a record with his fourth MVP award in the Western Conference's 148-143 victory over the East in the 2011 NBA All-Star Game.
Wade takes MVP honors before largest basketball crowd in history
Everything's not just bigger in Texas -- it's gigantic, colossal, and don't forget -- humongous. The NBA All-Star Game came to the Lone Star State and a basketball nation broke out as a world-record crowd of 108,713 filled up the futuristic edifice that is Cowboys Stadium to see the East squeeze out a 141-139 win over the West.
Back together, Shaq and Kobe share MVP honors
Teammates for three championships with the Lakers at the beginning of the decade, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal teamed up once more to lead the Western Conference over the East 146-119. Bryant led all scorers with 27 points while Shaq added 17.
2008 (New Orleans)
LeBron's MVP performance leads East to win
LeBron James earned MVP honors and nearly missed a triple-double (27 points, eight rebounds, nine assists) as the Eastern Conference downed the West 134-128.
2007 (Las Vegas)
Kobe's 31 points gives West victory in Vegas
Kobe Bryant lit up the Las Vegas strip with 31 points to earn the MVP as the West romped past the East 153-132 at the first-ever All-Star game held outside an NBA city.
Click on the All-Star game results below for complete All-Star rosters, coaches, game recaps and weekend event winners for every year.
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