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2015 NBA All-Star Game Recap

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This year, the 2015 NBA All-Star Game seemed more like the NFL Pro Bowl since many of the league’s elite players didn’t compete in the midseason classic. Just like many football stars skip the Pro Bowl, a number of superstars were forced to pull out of the NBA All-Star Game due to badly timed injuries.

Kobe Bryant, Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin and Dwyane Wade had to sit out, while LaMarcus Aldridge, Carmelo Anthony, Jimmy Butler and John Wall decided to play, but were each beat up and competing at less than 100 percent due to a variety of ailments.

The one silver lining of these injuries is that we had the opportunity to see some new faces take the floor during this year’s All-Star Game. Dirk Nowitzki, Damian Lillard, DeMarcus Cousins and Kyle Korver were added to the rosters as injury replacements (with Cousins and Korver making their first All-Star appearances). Korver’s addition gave the Hawks a record-tying four All-Stars participating in the game.

Due to the numerous injuries, the West’s starting lineup had to be altered as well. West head coach Steve Kerr had to make some changes to the starting five that voted by fans, beginning the game with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, James Harden, LaMarcus Aldridge and Marc Gasol. East head coach Mike Budenholzer didn’t have any injuries to his starters (just his bench) so he was able to stick with the starters voted in by the fans: John Wall, Kyle Lowry, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Pau Gasol.

Even before the game tipped off, NBA history was made as the Gasol brothers became not only the first pair of brothers to face off against each other as All-Star starters, they also became the first ever European players to be voted into the starting lineups by fans. Nowitzki started in the 2007 NBA All-Star Game after Yao Ming was pulled out of the game due to injury, but the Gasol brothers are the first players to actually be voted as starters.

Once the game got under way, LeBron James and Russell Westbrook caught fire.

James was dominant in the first quarter, hitting six of his first nine shots (including 3-5 from three-point range) to score 15 points for the East. With those 15 first-quarter points, he passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Jordan for the second-most career points in All-Star game history (trailing only Kobe Bryant). He finished the first half with 22 points on 8-12 shooting from the field.

Then, Westbrook came off of the bench to score 25 points in his first nine minutes on the floor. He was ridiculously hot, hitting 9-12 shots from the field (including 3-5 from three-point range). Westbrook’s 25 points set a record for most points in All-Star game half. He would add to his record, finishing the first half with 27 points.

Korver was a pleasant surprise as well, scoring 12 points in seven minutes in the first half. He shot 4-7 from three-point range and made his presence felt. He was the East’s second-leading scorer, which is very impressive since he was the last player added to the All-Star game and only made it due to Wade being injured (although many people around the league felt he should’ve been selected by the coaches).

At halftime, the West led the East, 83-82. The fact that the game was so close was somewhat of a surprise, as the West led by double figures for much of the first two quarters. However, James and Korver shot the East back into the game to make things interesting.

If you like high-scoring games, this was a perfect contest for you. The two teams combined for 165 points through two quarters, which tied an All-Star game record for most combined points in a half.

The second half continued to be a high-scoring affair, as the two teams would ultimately combine for 321 points (an All-Star record). The East and West shot a total of 130 threes (making 48), which is another All-Star record.

The West ended up beating the East, 163-158. At one point, the West led by 20 points, but the East managed to fight back and make it an interesting game that was decided in the final minutes.

Westbrook led all scorers with 41 points in just 22 minutes, while also chipping in five rebounds and three steals. He was named the All-Star MVP, and deservedly so since he was dominant offensively all night.

James Harden also filled the stat sheet for the West, finishing with 29 points (on 11-16 shooting), eight rebounds, eight assists and two steals. Aldridge also played well, contributing 18 points on 7-11 shooting from the field (including 4-4 from three-point range).

James led the East with 30 points (on 11-21 shooting), seven assists, five rebounds and two steals.

However, the biggest surprise for the East was the dominant game by Korver. He finished with 21 points, knocking down all seven of his shots from three-point range and taking just 13 attempts. With so many stars around him, he got a number of open looks and took advantage. Very few people would’ve predicted that Korver would be the game’s fourth-leading scorer, but that just shows that the All-Star Game can be somewhat unpredictable.

This was a fun, high-scoring contest in which 16 of the game’s 24 players scored in double digits. While it would’ve been fun to see these teams at full strength, this ended up being a pretty entertaining game and, at the end of the day, that’s what the All-Star game is about.

If you missed last night’s All-Star Saturday Night events (including the dunk contest, three-point shootout and skills challenge), be sure to check out our Saturday recap. If you missed Friday’s Rising Stars Challenge and Celebrity All-Star Game, check out our Friday recap.

For more coverage of the 2015 All-Star Weekend, including interviews with the All-Stars, you can view all of Basketball Insiders’ articles and videos here.