NEW ORLEANS – (Special to Digital Spors Desk by the Sports Xchange) – In the full-court layup drill and 3-point contest otherwise known as the 66th NBA All-Star Game, New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis set an All-Star record with 52 points and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook added 41 points to carry the Western Conference to a 192-182 victory over the Eastern Conference on Sunday night at the Smoothie King Center.
In a game in which defense was outlawed and feuding former teammates Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant played together for only 81 seconds, the West defeated the East for the sixth time in the last seven games.
The 374 combined points broke the record of 369 set during the West’s 196-173 win a year ago.
The East was led by Milwaukee Bucks center Giannis Antetokounmpo, who scored 28 points, and LeBron James, making his 13th All-Star start, with 23 points.
Davis, named the MVP, broke the All-Star Game scoring record of 42 points set by Wilt Chamberlain in 1962. He made 26 of 39 shots from the field, eclipsing Blake Griffin’s 2014 record of 19 made field goals in an All-Star Game.
One play in the second half summed up the general mindset of the players, who naturally placed self-preservation ahead of bravado.
Antetokounmpo stole the ball near midcourt and had a four-on-one against Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry. Curry found a spot in the middle of the lane — 10 feet in front of the basket — and laid stomach-first on the floor while Antetokounmpo hit an uncontested layup.
The world did not stop spinning on its axis, but it did skip a beat midway through the first quarter when the West embarked on an otherwise mundane offensive possession.
Westbrook and Durant ran across midcourt on either side of the key. Westbrook flicked a pass to Durant on the left side, and Durant threw it right back to Westbrook on a give-and-go that resulted in an easy layup and a 31-28 West lead.
At the next timeout, the West bench greeted Durant and Westbrook with high-fives, and someone poured a bottle of water on Durant’s head. Clippers center DeAndre Jordan came over and bear-hugged Westbrook as team managers got on the floor and wiped up the water.
The East led 53-48 after 12 minutes — the 101 combined points was an All-Star Game record for a quarter — and the West took a 97-92 halftime lead.
The 189 first-half points broke the All-Star record of 187 points set in the first half last year (West 104, East 83).
There was no defense allowed, so 58.1 percent shooting by the West and 58.0 percent by the East in the first half actually was a shade disappointing.
Davis led the West with 22 points, hitting an opening 3-pointer from the top of the key and then making 10 shots at the rim. Westbrook, who had a couple of fun exchanges going one-on-one against Boston Celtics 5-9 point guard Isaiah Thomas, added 19 points, five rebounds and four assists.
James paced the East with 20 points in the first half.
NOTES: The over-under for the game was 348.5 points. Last year’s 196-173 West victory (369 total points) obliterated the previous highest total of 321. … For the first time in All-Star history, five players drafted in the second round were named 2017 All-Stars — Atlanta’s Paul Millsap and Boston’s Isaiah Thomas for the East, and Golden State’s Draymond Green, the Los Angeles Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan and Memphis’ Marc Gasol for the West. … LeBron James was the fifth player in NBA history to start in at least 13 All-Star games. He joined Kobe Bryant (15 starts) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bob Cousy and Michael Jordan with 13 each. … Giannis Antetokounmpo was the first Milwaukee Buck to start an All-Star Game since Sidney Moncrief in 1986. … Oklahoma City Thunder G Russell Westbrook won back-to-back All-Star MVPs in 2015 and 2016 — the only player in NBA history to accomplish that feat