NEW ORLEANS – The stars were everywhere, on and off the court during the 66th annual NBA All-Star game.
There were lots of hugs, handshakes and goody-good vibes shared by all.
And then … the fourth quarter arrived.
It’s the only time of the game when the All-Star game actually looks like a game and not an open gym full of the best players on the planet.
And as we’ve seen this season, no one is better in the fourth quarter than Boston’s Isaiah Thomas.
True to form, Thomas saw a playing time in the fourth quarter.
But his scoring prowess wasn’t enough with the Western Conference emerging with a 192-182 win. It is the sixth time in the last seven All-Star games that the West has come away with the victory.
Thomas had 20 points on 7-for-15 shooting and 4-for-10 from 3-point range.
That’s not a bad performance, but there were others who were a lot more prolific shooting the ball.
Kevin Durant, playing in his first All-Star game as a member of the Golden State Warriors, had a triple-double of 21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, MVP each of the previous two All-Star games, finished with 41 points – one shy of tying the most points scored in an All-Star game.
Despite Westbrook’s monster game, the record wound up being shattered by New Orleans’ Anthony Davis who had 52 points which broke Wilt Chamberlain’s All-Star game record of 42 points set in 1962.
Shooting 26 for 39 from the field, Davis also grabbed 10 rebounds.
One of the more interesting stretches came in the first half between Thomas and Westbrook.
Westbrook grabbed an offensive rebound, saw that he was being guarded by Thomas and snarled at him moments before banking in a 3-pointer.
Thomas wasn’t about to be showed up by his fellow All-Star.
On the ensuing possession, he came right back and hit a long range 3-pointer in Russell’s mug. Westbrook came back with a 3-pointer that was off the mark followed by a Thomas miss.
That sequence was about as close as we came to seeming some semblance of defense played by either team, with lay-ups, and wide open dunks reigning supreme all night.
The much-talked about “reunion” between Durant and Westbrook was very civil, one that included the two connecting on a give-and-go in the first half that ended with a Westbrook basket.
Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo gave the crowd better dunks in the All-Star game than the actual slam dunk contest, finishing with 30 points on 14-of-17 with 12 dunks.