Blake Griffin

Los Angeles' Blake Griffin won the slam dunk contest. Courtesy of

This past Sunday, Feb. 20, crowds piled into the Staples Center in Los Angeles to witness the Western Conference All-Star Team defeat the East 148-143 in this year’s NBA All-Star Game.

Forward LeBron James and guard Dwayne Wade from the Miami Heat started for the East alongside Magic center Dwight Howard, Bulls guard Derrick Rose and Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire. The West’s starting lineup featured Oklahoma’s Kevin Durant, Denver’s Carmelo Anthony, New Orleans’ Chris Paul, San Antonio’s Tim Duncan and Los Angeles’  Kobe Bryant.
Despite the seemingly close final score, the West dominated most of the game, always staying ahead of the East on the scoreboard.

The East fell behind early. Half way through the first quarter, East coach Doc Rivers replaced his starters with Celtics Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. Dwight Howard remained on the court, but the team found themselves down 76-64 at halftime.

An explosive fourth-quarter dunk and uplifting speech by James inspired an Eastern comeback. Allen kept hope alive with a fade-away three-pointer in the last minute to bring the East within striking distance. It was all in vain, though, as Durant killed the comeback with back-to-back baskets.

Bryant was awarded his fourth All-Star Game MVP honor, contributing 37 points and 14 rebounds. James scored the second triple double in All-Star Game history, with 29 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.

Two newcomers also did exceptionally well, as Thunder guard Russell Westbrook and Clippers forward Blake Griffin had 12 points and eight points respectively. Each also pulled down five rebounds.

The All-Star Game attracted hordes of viewers, but the night before’s program was watched by 8.1 million viewers, making it the most watched event in its 26-year history.

The highlight, the Slam Dunk Contest, featured rookie Blake Griffin, who leapt over a Kia Optima to secure the win. The Heat’s James Jones ousted the Celtics duo of Allen and Pierce to claim the three-point contest.

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