West forward Kevin Durant of the Thunder drives past East forward LeBron… (Chris O'Meara / Associated…)
Reporting from Orlando, Fla. — Kobe Bryant might have set the NBA All-Star game career scoring record on Sunday but it was Kevin Durant who was the difference-maker as the West won the annual showcase, 152-149, over the East.
The East crawled back from a huge deficit and got within a point with less than a minute to play but a put-back slam by Blake Griffin gave the West a three0point lead. Dwyane Wade followed by making a pair of free throws with 22.8 seconds left. Bryant was fouled on the inbounds and made one of two free throws.
The East had one last chance and Deron Williams missed badly, got the rebound but threw a bad pass that was intercepted by Griffin, who made one of two free throws for the final margin.
The Oklahoma City star, who was selected the game's most valuable player, set out to break Wilt Chamberlain’s single0game record of 42 points set in 1962 and was within eight after three quarters. But, he cooled off in the fourth quarter to finish with 36 points.
Bryant’s lifetime achievement record was for most points. With 4:56 left in the third quarter he got a feed from Durant and slammed it home to give him 20 points in the game and one more for his career than Michael Jordan’s 262. Bryant finished the game with 27 points on nine-of-17 shooting.
Bryant was taken for an evaluation after experiencing headaches following a blow to his head. Bryant was scheduled to meet with the media but instead was taken away to an unknown location to be further examined.
Bryant was walking swiftly as he left the locker room.
It’s believed he was injured with 8:48 left in the third quarter after a hard foul by Dwyane Wade. Bryant went to the free-throw line, sank the first and then time out was called to attend to a bloody nose. Bryant then returned to make the second free throw. Bryant continued to play in the game, including almost eight minutes of the final quarter.
The Lakers did not have any more information on his condition.
In addition, Griffin also made his mark in his second All-Star game, going nine for 12 from the field, mostly slams. He finished with 22 points and eight rebounds. And Chris Paul did what he does best -- pass the ball -- finishing with eight points and 12 assists. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love came off the bench to score 21 and 17 points, respectively, for the West.
The only down note for Los Angeles was Andrew Bynum, who left after 5:31 in the first quarter with a sore knee. He had an injection on Saturday and his mood during the remainder of the game made it appear it was nothing to worry about.
The East, which closed the game on a 31-14 run, was led by LeBron James, who scored 36 points and made a good case to be the MVP. The East, which never led in the game and trailed by 20 points with eight minutes left, made a late run, closing to within three with three minutes to play. But Durant connected for two on a runner and Russell Westbrook dunked an offensive rebound to momentarily stop the East's rally.
West 124, East 112 (end of third quarter)
Andrew Bynum did come out for warmups before the start of the second half. He basically just prowled around the key shooting flat footed --no jumping. When he didn’t start it was clear he was not coming back in the game making his first NBA All-Star game less than memorable. He left after five minutes in the first quarter and reported that his knee was sore after Saturday’s routine injection.
Kobe Bryant, in his quest to become the all-time leading All-Star game scorer got his 15th and 16th points at the free-throw line. He needed 19 to pass Michael Jordan.
He got one point closer with 8:48 left to play in the quarter and then took time out to attend to what appeared to be a bloody nose. After time resumed, he rattled the ball off the front, back and into the hole to tie Jordan. Now, it was only a matter of time.
Meanwhile, the East started to close the margin, getting to within 10 points of the West with seven minutes to play. The East closed it to seven before Kevin Durant made a two, pushing him closer to the game MVP award.
Bryant set the record with 4:55 to play in the quarter with an uncontested slam. It gave him 20 points for the game, which he added to a minute later with two free throws. And with less than three minutes to go in the quarter he added another bucket.
Meanwhile, Blake Griffin was quietly adding to his reputation with 17 points on eight-of-nine shooting, mostly all slams. Three of those came from teammate Chris Paul.
Durant finished the quarter with 34 points and it’s just a matter of how he plays in the final quarter to see if he can pass Wilt Chamberlain’s single-game record of 42.
West 88, East 69 (halftime)