By Associated Press
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – Kobe, KD and the West looked ready to deliver a quick KO.
Kevin Durant knew better.
“With all these great players on the floor, you never know what will happen,” Durant said. “Guys making big shots, and they cut it down to one. We were up 18.”
Just enough, it turned out, to hold off LeBron James and the East in the NBA All-Star game.
A bloodied Bryant scored 27 points, moving past Michael Jordan as the career scoring leader in the game, Durant had 36 in an MVP performance, and the Western Conference won 152-149 on Sunday night.
James and the East cut a 21-point deficit to one in the closing seconds, but weren’t able to move in front. James had 36 points and fellow Heat star Dwyane Wade finished with a triple-double.
But the West had just enough to hold on as the clock wound down.
“It was fun,” Durant said. “That’s the type of All-Star game you want to see.”
Blake Griffin scored 22 points for the West, which rang up 89 points in the first half, setting an All-Star record. But he won the game with his defense, picking off James’ pass when the East had a chance to tie in the final seconds.
“When I tried to throw it late, that’s what usually happens and it results in a turnover,” James said. “Definitely wish I could have that one back.”
Griffin then hit one free throw with 1.1 seconds left, and Wade was off on a 3-point attempt from the corner. He finished with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, joining Jordan and James as the only players with All-Star game triple-doubles.
Bryant was bloodied by a hard foul from Wade and stayed in the game, but left to be evaluated afterward and did not speak to the media.
Durant’s MVP win left Bryant tied for the All-Star record with four such awards. But he got a bigger mark in his 13th All-Star game. Bryant broke Jordan’s record of 262 points on a dunk with 4:57 left in the third quarter and now has 271 for his career. He passed Oscar Robertson (246 points) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (251) earlier in the game.
It nearly wasn’t enough, as the East’s comeback had the crowd filled with entertainers and athletes chanting for defense – never a part of the All-Star game vocabulary – in the final seconds.
James hit two long 3-pointers in the final period, and the East had a chance when Bryant, with the crowd loudly booing, missed a free throw with 18 seconds left and the West up 151-149.
But New Jersey’s Deron Williams was short on a 3-pointer, and after the East came up with it, James fired a pass into a crowd that Griffin intercepted.
On a colorful night in Orlando, from pregame performer Nicki Minaj’s pink and green hair to the neon sneakers many of the stars wore,