It was a dunk-a-thon early on, and a heated rivalry game late. In essence, the 2012 NBA All-Star Game in Orlando lived up to its hype, showcasing the best talents in basketball while being equally dramatic and entertaining for the fans. In the end, however, the Western Conference All-Stars held off a furious rally by the East to notch a 152-149 win.
With all these great players on the floor, you never know what will happen, said Kevin Durant, who made his third appearance in the All-Star game on Sunday night. Guys making big shots, and they cut it down to one. We were up 18.
Even though the Eastern Conference All-Stars lead the all-time series 36-25, the Western All-Stars looked to stomp the East early on. Led by high-octane scorers Durant, Kobe Bryant and Blake Griffin, the West set an All-Star Game record for most points by a team in a half by leading the East 88-69.
At halftime, however, Eastern All-Star forward LeBron James made yet another impassioned plea to his teammates to pick up the defensive intensity in the second half. James made a similar speech in last year's All-Star Game, but even though his teammates made an incredible push towards the end, just like 2011, the Eastern squad came up just short.
For the winning West squad, Durant was named the game's MVP with 36 points and 7 rebounds. Bryant scored 27, and Griffin collected 22 points and 8 rebounds.
Bryant had a big night on Sunday, passing Michael Jordan's 261 points to become the greatest scorer in the history of the All-Star Game. However, before he could surpass MJ, Bryant broke his nose after a hard foul from East guard Dwyane Wade left him bloodied.
Yeah, I obviously didn't try to draw no blood, but I took a foul, Wade said. Kobe fouled me two times in a row, so he's still got one up on me. But I'm glad that everything was cool and we got back to being competitive and having fun.
Despite the broken nose, Bryant stayed in the game. He skipped the postgame presser afterwards to receive a CT scan, which revealed Bryant had suffered a nasal fracture. He is expected to be re-evaluated on Monday by Dr. John Rehm, an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist based in Los Angeles.
Bryant passed Jordan with 4:57 left to go in the third quarter on a dunk. Earlier in the night, he also beat All-Star Game points records set by Oscar Robertson (246) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (251).
Tonight, he does what he normally does, Wade said of Bryant. He got 27. He's Kobe Bryant. He scores the ball. He's a tough cover. But it's great being a little piece of history. He's one of the best of all time. We will one day say we had the honor of playing against one of the greatest players to ever play the game of basketball.
Wade qualified his statements, mentioning that there are plenty of other great players who could easily beat Bryant's record in the future.
That record he got tonight, with KD in the league, I don't know how long it's going to last, Wade said.
Wade also had his own record-setting night, becoming the third person in the history of the NBA All-Star Game to accomplish a triple-double. The other two are Michael Jordan and, as of last year, LeBron James. Wade finished with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
The 2012 NBA All-Star Game would have been a runaway win for the West, were it not for the furious scoring show put on by LeBron James. He made six of his eight 3-point attempts, and dazzled fans with effortless passes and stunning dunks.
Unfortunately, James disappeared when the game mattered most. James was on fire for most of the game, but as the East trailed the West by 2 in the closing seconds, James threw a misguided pass to Wade instead, but the ball was picked off by Griffin. James said after the game that Bryant, who was guarding him at the time, egged him on to take the final shot.
Yeah, he was telling me to shoot it, LeBron said. I (saw) my teammate open for a split-second. When I tried to throw it late, that's what usually happens and it results in a turnover. Definitely, I wish I could have that one back.
The East had one more chance on the next possession, but again, James passed the ball to Wade from out-of-bounds, who missed his 3-point attempt as time expired.
The highlights and best plays from the game are in the videos below. What was your favorite play? Let us know in the comments section below.
Highlights from the 2012 All-Star Game:
LeBron goes off
Dwyane Wade breaks Kobe's nose
Top 10 Plays: