From the first play to the final minute, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving made it clear how the East felt about this All-Star game.
Kyrie Irving had 31 points and 14 assists and was voted the game’s MVP, Carmelo Anthony made an All-Star record eight 3-pointers and scored 30 points, and the East rallied for a 163-155 victory over the West on Sunday night.
“There’s so many MVPs out there on that floor and to be named MVP among all those great stars is truly an honor,” Irving said. “It’s a blessing. I’m glad I get to bring it back to Cleveland.”
Fed up with losing the midseason game and tired of the East being picked on for its mediocrity this season, James had a steal and dunk on the first possession, long before defense usually shows up in the All-Star game.
‘‘We wanted this win,’’ James said. ‘‘They beat us the last three years and they had a lot of bragging rights, so to be able to come through being down 18 was huge.’’
Durant, who has led the Oklahoma City Thunder to the league’s best record this season, scored 38 points. James, the star of the Miami Heat, finished with 22 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists for the East — a muted performance as players from both sides clogged the box score in a dizzying affair.
The game that usually doesn’t get tight until the final minutes was close throughout the fourth quarter, neither team leading by more than four until the final minute.
The West led by two points after the first quarter, and after a back-and-forth start to the second quarter, they took control. The West used a 19-6 run to surge ahead, with Durant finishing the half on a strong note to take an 89-76 lead into the break. The 165 combined points in the first half was an All-Star Game record, says SBNation.
“It was definitely special,” Irving said afterward. “Just being out here with all these great athletes and playing in front of a great crowd in New Orleans, and then the game got competitive. As athletes we all want to make the game competitive, especially in an All-Star game. It could get out of hand, but both teams competed until the end. And the East wanted to win this one.””
LeBron James is widely recognized as the game’s best player, and knows a little something about playing at the level Irving described. He succinctly described what Irving brings to the game, and seems to have known for a long time that he was indeed capable of putting together such a dominant effort on a court filled with the league’s best players, says ProBasketballTalk.
“Kyrie is special, it’s just that simple,” James said. “His ability to shoot the ball, get into the lane, make shots around the rim, he has the total package. I’ve always known that. I’ve always witnessed that since he was in high school. I’m extremely happy for him, extremely proud for him to receive this award.”