NEW ORLEANS â€” Anthony Davis had an All-Star Game for the record books.
And on a night when Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant provided a glimpse of the past, Giannis Antetokounmpo showed he’s clearly part of the future and a midcourt lob attempt from James Harden even went in, Davis absolutely stole the show.
He scored 52 points, 10 more than Wilt Chamberlain’s All-Star record that had stood for 55 years, and the Western Conference beat the Eastern Conference 192-182 on Sunday night â€” the highest-scoring game in league history.
Davis made 26 shots and took 39, both of those also All-Star records. He even outdid Westbrook, who had 41 points in just 20 minutes â€” which ordinarily would have been enough to merit him what would have been a third straight MVP award.
Not this time. It was Davis hoisting the trophy, to the delight of his New Orleans fans.
“It was a lot of fun,” Davis said. “My teammates did a great job of looking for me.”
Durant had a triple-double with 21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Stephen Curry added 21 points for the West â€” where a subplot emerged as DeMarcus Cousins played only two minutes, prompting some speculation that a trade sending him out of Sacramento might be looming.
Antetokounmpo had 30 points for the East, with 12 dunks in his night. LeBron James scored 23 points to become the first All-Star to eclipse 300 in a career, Kyrie Irving had 22 points and 14 assists, and Isaiah Thomas scored 20 for the East.
Davis became the story that overshadowed The Story coming into this game, that being the Durant-Westbrook whatever.
And if there is any animus remaining between Durant and Westbrook, it was hidden. They passed each other the ball and slapped hands in the pregame layup line, and not long after Westbrook checked into the game the former Oklahoma City teammates provided one of the game’s top highlights â€” a give-and-go, capped by Durant lobbing the ball to set Westbrook up for a dunk.
“OH MY GOD! WHAT JUST HAPPENED?” Curry shouted on the West bench, which moments later broke into celebration. Players jumped and threw hands skyward, Curry tossing a cupful of water onto a smiling Durant amid it all.
Draymond Green called the play “cute,” and Westbrook and Durant seemed happy with it as well.
“It was a nice give-and-go, man,” Westbrook said. “Good give-and-go. Made a good pass. I barely got over the rim, but it was a nice give-and-go.”
Added Durant: “It was a great basketball play. He was open so I threw him the lob. He can jump really high so yeah, good play.”
Some fans were shouting “De-Fense!” in the fourth quarter. West centre DeAndre Jordan heard them, rising from his seat on the West bench to yell “No, no, no” back in their direction.
If those fans were serious, they were disappointed.
Westbrook scored 12 points â€” all on 3s â€” in a 63-second span late in the third quarter, coming off the bench and firing over and over and over again. And then he opened the fourth quarter with another 3, giving him 34 points in just under 14 minutes played to that point.
It looked like he was a cinch for MVP honours, until Davis scored 20 points in the fourth.
East: Irving also led the East in rebounds with seven. … Toronto Raptors’ Kyle Lowry scored 19 points and DeMar DeRozan added 16. … No East player logged more than 24 minutes.
West: Curry took cover in the third quarter, comically hitting the deck face-first as Antetokounmpo went in for yet another dunk. So later in the quarter, Antetokounmpo went over Curry for a rebound slam â€” one that left Curry staring at the scoreboard for a replay. … Kawhi Leonard had a steal and dunk in the opening minute, a defensive display that left West coach Steve Kerr in hysterics.
Joel Embiid wanted to be in the All-Star Game, and he was close â€” literally and figuratively.
The Philadelphia star sat on the edge of the baseline next to the West bench, meaning he got to greet players throughout the night and share a few words with some at halftime.
A huge roar greeted Jon Batiste, who performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” pregame, when he started the song.
It wasn’t for him.
That happened to be the moment when John Legend â€” the halftime performer â€” and Chrissy Teigen were shown at their sideline seats on the video screens around the arena. And a louder cheer came not long afterward when Beyonce and Jay Z got on-screen.
Among the other celebs in the seats: Guy Fieri, Dave Chappelle, Julius Erving, Alonzo Mourning, Bill Russell, Oscar Robertson and The Roots.
Montreal’s Nikki Yanofsky sang the Canadian national anthem.
The next All-Star Game is Feb. 18, 2018, in Los Angeles, which will host for a record sixth time.
Tim Reynolds, The Associated Press