As if the first half of the season wasn’t painful enough for the Heat, LeBron James reminded everyone in South Florida what they’re missing during the NBA All-Star Game, too.
The undisputed king of the NBA, James lorded over the first NBA All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden since 1998 and led the East All-Stars with 30 points.
"Don't get no better, man, you play in The Garden in front of these fans—they know the game of basketball and to be able to go out and represent my team and represent this league at the highest level, it means a lot," James said.
Led by Russell Westbrook and James Harden, the West All-Stars defeated James and the East 163-158 in the highest-scoring game (321 points total), and James finished two points shy of tying Kobe Bryant for the all-time career All-Star scoring record.
James, an 11-time All-Star, now has 278 career points in All-Star games. Bryant, a 17-time All-Star, has 280 points.
While James was chasing history, Heat All-Star Dwyane Wade watched from the sidelines with a strained right hamstring.
The Heat’s Chris Bosh, now a 10-time All-Star, finished with 10 points in 11 minutes.
Westbrook was named the game’s MVP. He scored 41 points in 26 minutes and came one point shy of tying Wilt Chamberlain’s single-game All-Star scoring record.
The top three highlights from an exhibition game filled with amazing displays of athleticism:
▪ Westbrook’s one-handed, alley-oop dunk off a lob from Chris Paul in the third quarter. Westbrook actually smacked the top of his head against the rubber on the bottom of the backboard.
▪ James’ reverse baseline alley-oop dunk off a long lob from John Wall. James sprinted down the side of the court after the play and jumped over a seated cameraman as a celebration.
▪ Stephen Curry’s look-away, behind-the-back lob to Harden, who finished the play with a powerful alley-oop dunk.
Wade didn’t play, but he received a loud ovation nonetheless when introduced before the game. With 21 combined All-Star appearance for their careers, Wade and Bosh gave the Heat the most All-Star appearances of any other team. Wade is an 11-time All-Star.
Bosh started the second quarter and had a three-pointer to cut the West’s lead to 69-57 with 6:16 left in the period.
Kerr had high praise for Bosh earlier in the weekend. Golden State’s first-year coach called Bosh “one of my favorite players in the league.”
“I love Chris Bosh,” Kerr said. “I love guys who play both ends. I love big guys who can stretch the floor, guard, screen-and-roll and switch out on the point guards and stay in front of them. He does all that.
“And that’s the most important thing in the game these days, is to have that kind of versatility as a big and be able to protect the rim and still get out to the perimeter and score inside and out. I think he’s one of the very best players in the league.”
Wade played a small role in the night’s festivities despite not suiting up. The Heat’s 11-time All-Star and future first ballot Hall of Famer introduced some iconic legends of the game — Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Julius Erving, Bill Russell and Oscar Robertson — between the first and second quarters.
Wade’s highlight of the night was posing for a picture with former President Bill Clinton at halftime. Clinton was a prominent figure during the pregame national anthem. The camera panned to him twice during Queen Latifah’s folksy rendition, and the arena erupted into applause both times.
He didn’t start, but Westbrook made it clear early that he was on a mission to upstage everyone.
The Oklahoma City guard had 27 points in the first half, going 11 of 15 from the field and 3 of 5 from three-point range.
While everyone else was playing at half speed to begin the game, Westbrook appeared to be taking things a little more seriously. His three consecutive three-pointers gave the West a 56-36 lead in the first quarter.
The West scored 47 points in the first period alone and led 83-82 at halftime.
With the best record in the Eastern Conference, the Atlanta Hawks featured four All-Stars and the East’s coach, Mike Budenholzer. The Hawks (Al Horford, Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver) were on the court together at the end of the first quarter. Replacing Wade, Korver had 21 points and was 7 of 13 from three-point range.