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West fends off East

ORLANDO — Kobe Bryant took Michael Jordan's record and West teammate Kevin Durant scored 36, but then they nearly lost the game to LeBron James.

Bryant, Durant and the West held off a furious East comeback, winning 152-149 in the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday night.

The 301 combined points made it the second-highest scoring All-Star Game in history, behind the 303 points of the 1987 game won by the West in overtime 154-149.

James and the East cut a 21-point deficit to one in the closing seconds but weren't able to move in front. James had 36 points and fellow Heat star Dwyane Wade finished with a triple double. Magic star Dwight Howard had nine points and 10 rebounds as game's host in the Amway Center.

"With all these great players on the floor, you never know what will happen. Guys making big shots and they cut it down to one. We were up 18 (at halftime)," Durant said. "It was fun. That's the type of All-Star Game you want to see."

Blake Griffin scored 22 for the West, which scored 89 in the first half, setting an All-Star record. Griffin won the game with his defense, picking off James' pass when the East had a chance to tie in the final seconds.

"I can't turn the ball over like that," James said. "I let my team down, but overall it was a great weekend."

Griffin then hit one free throw with 1.1 seconds left, and Wade was off on a 3-point attempt from the corner. He finished with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, joining Jordan and James as the only players with All-Star Game triple doubles.

Durant was the MVP, leaving Bryant tied for the All-Star record with his four. But the Lakers star got a bigger mark in his 13th All-Star Game.

He broke Jordan's record of 262 points on a dunk with 4:57 left in the third quarter and now has 271 for his career. He entered with 244 and also passed Oscar Robertson (246) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (251) in the game.

With Bryant covering him, James hit two long 3-pointers in the final period, and the East had a chance when Bryant missed a free throw with 18 seconds left and the West up 151-149.

"Just being a competitor," James said. "They pretty much beat us up all game so we just wanted to make a game of it."

But New Jersey's Deron Williams was short on a 3-pointer, and after the East came up with it, James fired a pass into a crowd that Griffin intercepted.

We'll be back, sooner: It doesn't sound as though the NBA will wait another 20 years to return to Orlando. Commissioner David Stern praised the city's qualifications, calling it the "perfect city to host an All-Star Game," and adding later, "… we look forward to coming back, but I can't say when." The old Orlando Arena wasn't considered to be properly equipped to host, so the NBA hadn't been to the city since 1992. Amway Center opened in 2010.

Status of Howard: Center Dwight Howard, who made it known before the season that he wanted to be traded from the Magic, was asked if he has received advice from his fellow All-Stars about his future.

"They understand it's a very difficult, tough decision for me," Howard told the Orlando Sentinel. "… But their thing is, hey, let me have fun. We don't want to talk about a trade or speculation or whatever."

Though Howard, who can become a free agent this summer, has not withdrawn his trade request, he has hinted he could decide to stay. Magic officials expect to talk to Howard after the break, probably before Thursday, and ask him his plans. CEO Alex Martins has said the front office will weigh what Howard says before it decides its next step.

The All-Star Game summary was not available at press time because of transmission problems.

West fends off East 02/26/12 [Last modified: Monday, February 27, 2012 12:09am]
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