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Irving guides East to record-setting All-Star win

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NEW ORLEANS — Defense in an NBA All-Star Game is such a missing commodity it probably belongs on a milk carton, but this was video-game scoring gone wild.

Behind 31 points and 14 assists by Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving and 30 points on a record eight 3-pointers by New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, the East All-Stars obliterated a flurry of scoring records on their way to a 163-155 comeback victory over the West in the 63rd All-Star Game on Sunday night at the Smoothie King Center.

Playing in his second All-Star Game, Irving, just 21, poured in 24 points during the East’s 87-point second half. He was voted the game’s most valuable player.

“I didn’t give it any thought,” Irving said of any pregame expectations of winning the MVP. “I just wanted to make the game competitive — go out there and compete. I feel like that’s what all the fans want to see us do — just compete at the highest level.”

The 163 points broke the all-time scoring record for points in an All-Star Game — 155 by the West in a double-overtime victory in 2003. The previous high score in a regulation game was 153 points, accomplished in 1961, 1992 and 2007.

The teams also combined for 318 points, breaking the record of 303 set in 1987.

“I’ve been trying to tell all you guys that great offense beats great defense — everybody knows that, right?” said East coach Frank Vogel, the coach of the defense-oriented Indiana Pacers, with a wide smile.

The East trailed by as many as 18 points in the third quarter but it used an 18-3 run in the final 4 1/2 minutes of the period to close the deficit to 126-123. During that stretch, the West, which shot 51 percent for game, missed 10 of 11 shots.

Irving led the comeback with nine third-quarter points and added 15 in the fourth, when the West outscored the East 40-29.

“Kyrie is special,” said East forward LeBron James of the Miami Heat, who had 22 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. “It’s just that simple. He’s a very special basketball player. His ability to shoot the ball, get into the lane, make shots around the rim — he has the total package.”

Irving’s 3-pointer from the left wing with 2:18 left gave the East a 153-152 lead, but Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant responded with a 3-pointer to put the West back on top 155-153.

On the next trip, Irving found Indiana Pacers forward Paul George open on the right wing, and George was fouled on a 3-point attempt by Houston Rockets guard James Harden.

George hit all three free throws, and that gave the East the lead for good with 1:41 left. Anthony followed with his eighth 3-pointer of the game, sealing the outcome.

Anthony came into the game frustrated by the Knicks’ struggles this season, but he didn’t let that bother him.

“I’ve been telling you that it was going to be hard for me to try and enjoy this weekend, but I did,” Anthony said. “I found a way. … My teammates kept finding me, so all I had to do was just space the court and make the shot. They made it easy for me.”

Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin and Durant paced the West with 38 points each. Griffin led the West to a 89-76 lead at halftime, scoring 18 first-quarter points, with eight of his nine baskets coming either on dunks or layups.

The 89-point total was an All-Star record for a half, eclipsing the 88 points posted by the West in the first half last year.

“It’s fun,” Griffin said. “This game is for the fans and to be able to do the things that they want to see. They don’t really want to see me shooting jump shots, so it’s cool to be able to get up and down and have fun with it.”

Durant led all scorers with 22 first-half points, including a deep 3-pointer from the left wing that capped a 16-4 West run for a 72-60 lead. However, he couldn’t make enough big shots at the end.

“We were up 18, but leads in this game, they come and go,” Durant said. “We got 127 shots, though. That’s a first. It was one of those games where you’re always going to remember it.”

NOTES: Los Angeles Lakers G Kobe Bryant, 35, said he is not sure if his body is finally giving out, which is why the rehab process from his knee injury is so intriguing even for him. “Part of the excitement — of the challenge — is that level of uncertainty,” Bryant said. “It’s (an) ‘Are my best days behind me’ sort of thing. To have those conversations with yourself and not be intimidated by that and not succumb to that is part of the challenge.” … Oklahoma City Thunder F Kevin Durant’s 38 points give him a career scoring average of 30.6 points in five All-Star Games. … New York Knicks F Carmelo Anthony’s eight 3-pointers eclipsed the All-Star mark of six, shared by Mark Price (1993) and LeBron James (2012). … Los Angeles Clippers F Blake Griffin hit 19 of 23 shots, the 19 field goals setting an All-Star record.

Alan is an experienced writer of online betting and casino guides. He is one of the main editors of Basketballinsiders.

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