“It was a spectacular show of athleticism,” Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors said of Westbrook’s performance.
Westbrook fell a point short of Wilt Chamberlain’s All-Star scoring record.
“I was close, but he’s a great, and I’m happy to be close to him,” Westbrook said.
The two squads skipped onto the court to warm up just before 8 p.m., tossing T-shirts into the still half-full stands as a gang of drummers hammered away to the beat of rap songs booming over the public address system. Twenty minutes later, on a large stage erected for the event, the singer Christina Aguilera appeared in a bedazzled, mechanical apple. The rapper Nas followed in work boots.
The squad introductions came next. The coach of the Western Conference team, Steve Kerr, who turned down an offer from the Knicks last year to instead coach the Warriors, was the first person introduced and the sight of him provoked the night’s only round of boos. Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks was the final person to take the smoky stage, and he lingered for a moment to soak up the loud cheers. Then the Rockettes performed.
Former President Bill Clinton was shown twice on the video screen during Queen Latifah’s jazzy rendition of the national anthem, drawing cheers from the crowd. Just before tipoff, Anthony, who was the lone representative in the game from the Knicks or the Nets, was handed a microphone on the court.
“We have the greatest fans in the world, so thank you,” said Anthony, who shot 6-for-20 from the field. “New York City is the greatest place in the world as well.”
The barrage of scoring began with John Wall throwing an alley-oop pass to James, who scored 15 points in the first quarter.
Near the four-minute mark, in a rare show of defense, Pau Gasol of the Chicago Bulls swatted away 3-point attempt from Klay Thompson of the Warriors. Gasol quickly offered his hand to Thompson, as if to say sorry.
The four members of the Atlanta Hawks — Jeff Teague, Paul Millsap, Al Horford and Kyle Korver — entered the game as a group midway through the first quarter, a reminder of team play on a night when individual fireworks were on display.
Everyone was dunking. Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks completed his first alley-oop since 2004, according to the ESPN statistics department. Kyle Lowry, who has not dunked this season while playing point guard for the Toronto Raptors, had one on a putback.
The teams combined for 83 points in the first quarter. The point total was 165 at halftime, at which point fans filtered onto the court to watch a pyrotechnic-heavy performance by the singer Ariana Grande, who was joined midway in her performance by the rapper Nicki Minaj.
The showboating continued after halftime. James unleashed a double-pump, reverse dunk after catching a pass in midair. Curry sank an underhanded floater, off the glass with extreme spin, from several feet away along the baseline. Westbrook levitated for a one-handed dunk and hit his head on the backboard.
As the game, somehow the peak of professional basketball at the Garden this season, crept toward its end, something resembling actual basketball broke out. In the final minutes, with teams within a few points, and at one stage tied, concerted defensive effort made its debut and offensive sets suddenly materialized. It was hardly enough, though, to erase the spectacle, on and off the court, that preceded it.Continue reading the main story
EAST 135, WEST 114, at Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
MVP: Michael Jordan
In his last All-Star Game before his second retirement, Chicago's Michael Jordan scored 23 points and dished out eight assists in earning the third, and final, All-Star MVP award of his Hall of Fame career. Jordan helped new Indiana coach Larry Bird to a win in his All-Star coaching debut.
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant became the youngest All-Star starter when he suited up for the West at age 19. He scored 18 points and pulled down six rebounds in the loss. His Lakers teammate, Eddie Jones, chipped in 15 points and 11 rebounds. Another Laker, Shaquille O'Neal, finally made his All-Star debut for the West after missing the 1997 game with an injury.
Rookie Tim Duncan, a future All-Star Game MVP and two-time NBA MVP, made his debut as a reserve for the West and hauled in 11 rebounds.
A general lack of interest among the NBA's major stars forced the league to postpone the slam dunk contest. Labor isued shortened the 1998-99 season and forced the cancellation of the 1999 All-Star Game, so the slam dunk compeition would not reappear on All-Star Weekend until 2000.
Jeff Hornacek of the Jazz took home the first of his two consecutive 3-Point Shootout contest trophies. Cavs big man Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 18 points and seven rebounds as the East beat the West 85-80 in the Rookie Game. The 1998 Rookie Game marked the final one in which rookies would be pitted against each other; at the 2000 All-Star Weekend, the format switched to the current rookies vs. sophomores format.
• Box score
All-Star Game rosters
Michael Jordan (Chicago Bulls)
Anfernee Hardaway (Orlando Magic)
Dikembe Mutombo (Atlanta Hawks)
Shawn Kemp (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Grant Hill (Detroit Pistons)
Reggie Miller (Indiana Pacers)
Rik Smits (Indiana Pacers)
Tim Hardaway (Miami Heat)
Glen Rice (Charlotte Hornets)
Steve Smith (Atlanta Hawks)
Antoine Walker (Boston Celtics)
Jayson Williams (New Jersey Nets)
Gary Payton (Seattle SuperSonics)
Kobe Bryant (L.A. Lakers)
Shaquille O'Neal (L.A. Lakers)
Karl Malone (Utah Jazz)
Kevin Garnett (Minnesota Timberwolves)
Nick Van Exel (L.A. Lakers)
Eddie Jones (L.A. Lakers)
David Robinson (San Antonio Spurs)
Tim Duncan (San Antonio Spurs)
Jason Kidd (Phoenix Suns)
Vin Baker (Seattle SuperSonics)
Mitch Richmond (Sacramento Kings)
All-Star weekend wrap-up
Slam Dunk contest: none
Three-Point Shootout: Jeff Hornacek, Utah Jazz
Rookie Game: East 85, West 80
Rookie Game MVP: Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Cleveland Cavaliers (18 points, seven rebounds, 8-for-10 shooting)