Durant Wins All-Star MVP; Westbrook Shines, too, in West Win

ORLANDO -- The third time was the charm for All-Star forward Kevin Durant, who made his third All-Star appearance, made his second All-Star start and, with a 36-point, seven-rebound, three-assist effort, came home with his first All-Star MVP trophy. Led by Durant, Thunder guard Russell Westbrook and Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks and his coaching staff, the Western Conference All-Stars defeated the Eastern Conference, 152-149, in an up-and-down contest that turned into a nail-biter until the end.

It was a special night for everyone in Orlando, but for Durant, in his fifth-year in the NBA, it was a wonderful night and an honor to be awarded with the MVP trophy with his mother in the stands.

"It's exciting to be named to the All-Star (team), but to step it up another level and become MVP, it's only something that as a kid you dream about," Durant said. "Coming from where I came from, I didn't think I would be here. Everything has just been a blessing to me. I'm excited, I'm glad I'm taking this back to Oklahoma City."

Westbrook also made a major impact on the game, playing 27 minutes and racking up 21 points, five rebounds and two assists, in addition to some of the biggest highlights of the night. From a step-back jumper to an aggressive, thunderous one-handed dunk in the lane, Westbrook made his mark and helped the West jump out to an 88-69 halftime lead thanks to 15 points in the second quarter. Those 88 points were the most in a half by a team in the history of the All-Star game. After the contest however, Westbrook said that he was very proud of Durant being named MVP of the game.

"Kevin is a deserving man," Westbrook said. "Whatever comes his way, he's a really good guy and he just wants to win. Tonight, he came out with a good mindset and got us the win. ... Just being here and enjoying the time with fans and all the different players (was great), but now it's time to get back to work."

Both teams shot above 53 percent in the high-paced, high-scoring game that featured 24 of the best athletes in the world. It was a great opportunity for Durant and Westbrook to showcase their skills against other big-name players throughout the league, in addition to being a chance for Brooks and his staff to take part in the festivities of the weekend. Brooks was excited to see the Western Conference team assembled before him and take on the challenge of playing all 12 guys, but he was happiest about the way that Durant and Westbrook shone on the night where the entire NBA's focus shifted to the All-Star Game.

"They're both great kids that work extremely hard," Brooks said. "They're real competitive. They're always about the team. They do a lot of good things for us. They've taken us to a good level, but we have a lot of work to do. It's special for our organization, it's special for Oklahoma City to have our staff and have Kevin and Russell represent ourselves and the league, and the way they do it is honorable. They come and do their work, and they're respectful, and they show great professionalism each and every day."

It was interesting to see all three members of the Thunder organization's attitudes after the game, in which each of them mentioned team goals and the need to continue to improve as a team in order for the Thunder to grow in the second half of the season. The environment that Brooks and the Thunder organization has built has prompted players like Durant to focus more on thanking his coaching staff and teammates as opposed to noticing that he was six points shy of the all-time points record in an All-Star Game, set by Wilt Chamberlain with 42 points in 1962. Durant was thrilled that he could share his MVP award with a teammate like Westbrook and Brooks and the coaching staff, and that they could join him in bringing it back to Oklahoma City.

"It's very special," Durant said. "I'm thankful for Coach Brooks and how he's helped me become a better player, Russell as well. And not just them, my whole team as well. Words can't describe it. I'm happy and I'm excited. There are a lot of different words I can use, but I'm glad I'm taking this back."