Kyrie Irving, Carmelo Anthony lead East to All-Star Game win in New Orleans
By: John DeShazier, Pelicans.com, @JohnDeShazier
The Eastern Conference entered the 63rd All-Star Game with an agenda.
Hard as it may have been to discern through much of the first three quarters, the East stars wanted to win at the Smoothie King Center on Sunday night, wanted to show the nation that they were on equal footing with their Western Conference counterparts regardless of what the NBA standings harshly suggested entering the All-Star break.
The Eastern Conference stars may not have converted their doubters, but they did erase an 18-point, third-quarter deficit en route to posting a 163-155 victory and ending a three-game losing streak to the Western Conference.
The East scored the final 10 points of the game after the West took a 155-153 lead with 1:59 left. “We wanted this win,” said Miami’s LeBron James, who finished with 22 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and three steals.
“Both teams competed until the end,” Cleveland guard Kyrie Irving said. “The East kind of wanted to win this one, (the losing streak) kind of got personal.”
And Irving, a 21-year-old making his first All-Star start, helped the East snap out of its doldrums in the second half, a time during which his team outscored the West 87-66, helping the East overcome an 89-76 halftime deficit.
Irving, named the game’s MVP, finished with a team-high 31 points and a game-high 14 assists, sinking 14 of 17 field-goal attempts and adding five rebounds to his stat line. Irving scored 24 in the second half, including 15 in the fourth quarter on 7-for-9 shooting. Pelicans forward Anthony Davis, making his All-Star Game debut, scored 10 points in 10 minutes for the West, making five of six shots.
“I just wanted to make the game competitive,” Irving said of the East’s unwillingness to fold in the third quarter, when it fell behind by 18 points. “I feel like that’s what the fans want to see. I just wanted to give the fans what they wanted.”
Said James: “Kyrie is special. It’s just that simple. He has the total package. I’ve always known that, I’ve always witnessed that.”
Sunday night, he also witnessed the highest-scoring game in All-Star history (318 combined points, bettering the 303 points scored in 1987), the most made field goals by a player (19 by the Clippers’ Blake Griffin, for the West), the most combined points by teammates (76 by Griffin and Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant for the West, with each scoring 38 points) and the most 3-pointers made by a player (eight, by New York’s Carmelo Anthony, for the East).
And James witnessed just a touch of defense by the East, after it surrendered 89 points in the first half, an All-Star record.
After Durant swished his sixth and final 3-pointer with 1:59 left to give the West a 155-153 lead, the West was shut out. For the East, Pacers forward Paul George made three free throws after being fouled while attempting a 3-pointer, Anthony made his final three-pointer, James scored on a layup and George sank two more foul shots to close out the scoring.
“They started making shots and we didn’t get enough stops,” Griffin said.
The East made 36 of 54 shots (67 percent) in the second half. In addition to Irving, Anthony (30 points) and James, George added 18 points for the East and John Wall scored 12 off the bench.
For the West, Clippers guard Chris Paul had 11 points and 13 assists and Minnesota forward Kevin Love finished with 13 points and nine rebounds.