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 by New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, the East All-Stars obliterated a flurry of scoring records on their way to a 163-155 victory over the West in the 63rd All-Star Game on Sunday night at the Smoothie King Center.
“I was just going out there trying to compete,” Irving said after hoisting the All-Star MVP trophy. “It’s been an honor. I’m just happy to be the most valuable player.”
The 163 points broke the all-time scoring record for points in a 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 combined for 318 points, breaking the record of 303 set in 1987.
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. Irving led the comeback with nine third-quarter points, and he finished with 24 points in an 87-point second half.
When Irving used a crossover dribble and drove down the lane to loft a tear drop, the East trailed 132-131 with 9:27 left. A dunk by Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah gave the East a 142-140 lead with 6:20 left, but Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant responded with a 3-pointer to put the West up 143-142.
Irving’s 3-pointer from the left wing with 2:18 left gave the East the lead for good.
Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin and Durant led the West with 38 points each.
In a high-octane start, the Western Conference broke the one-half All-Star Game scoring record while building an 89-76 lead at the break.
The West’s total eclipsed the 88 points posted by the West in the first half last year.
Griffin led the way, scoring 18 first-quarter points, with eight of his nine baskets coming either dunks or layups. Griffin had 20 points in the half on 10-of-13 shooting.
“Guys were just looking for me,” Griffin said. “It’s an All-Star Game, and not a whole lot of defense is being played. I tried to take advantage of it. It’s a lot of fun. This game is for the fans to put on a show and just 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. Durant made nine of 14 shots before intermission.
The East stayed within striking distance behind the outside gunning of Anthony, who had 20 first-half points. He made four of six shots from 3-point range before the break. Miami Heat forward LeBron James added 12 first-half points, and Irving registered seven points and seven assists in the first two quarters.
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.” … Bryant said he was “optimistic coming out of the (All-Star) break that I will have some improvements.” … Asked to name his “Mt. Rushmore” of all-time NBA greats, Bryant tabbed Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and Bill Russell. “That’s impossible to do four, though,” he said. “That’s crazy.”
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