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Kobe Bryant, West hold on to win NBA All-Star game

By Brian Mahoney

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Feb. 26 2012 8:35 p.m. MST

Eastern Conference's Dwyane Wade (3), of the Miami Heat, defends Western Conference's Kobe Bryant (24), of the Los Angeles Lakers, during the second half of the NBA All-Star basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012, in Orlando, Fla. The Western Conference won 152-149.

Chris O'Meara, Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. — Kobe, KD and the West looked ready to deliver a quick KO.

Kevin Durant knew better.

"With all these great players on the floor, you never know what will happen," Durant said. "Guys making big shots, and they cut it down to one. We were up 18."

Just enough, it turned out, to hold off LeBron James and the East in the NBA All-Star game.

A bloodied Bryant scored 27 points, moving past Michael Jordan as the career scoring leader in the game, Durant had 36 in an MVP performance, and the Western Conference won 152-149 on Sunday night.

James and the East cut a 21-point deficit to one in the closing seconds, but weren't able to move in front. James had 36 points and fellow Heat star Dwyane Wade finished with a triple-double.

But the West had just enough to hold on as the clock wound down.

"It was fun," Durant said. "That's the type of All-Star game you want to see."

Blake Griffin scored 22 points for the West, which rang up 89 points in the first half, setting an All-Star record. But he won the game with his defense, picking off James' pass when the East had a chance to tie in the final seconds.

"When I tried to throw it late, that's what usually happens and it results in a turnover," James said. "Definitely wish I could have that one back."

Griffin then hit one free throw with 1.1 seconds left, and Wade was off on a 3-point attempt from the corner. He finished with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, joining Jordan and James as the only players with All-Star game triple-doubles.

Bryant was bloodied by a hard foul from Wade and stayed in the game, but left to be evaluated afterward and did not speak to the media.

Durant's win left Bryant tied for the All-Star record with his four MVP awards. But he got a bigger mark in his 13th All-Star game.

He broke Jordan's record of 262 points on a dunk with 4:57 left in the third quarter and now has 271 for his career. He passed Oscar Robertson (246 points) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (251) earlier in the game.

"That record he got tonight, with KD in the league, I don't know how long it's going to last," Wade said.

It nearly wasn't enough, as the East's comeback had the crowd filled with entertainers and athletes chanting for defense — never a part of the All-Star game vocabulary — in the final seconds.

James hit two long 3-pointers in the final period, and the East had a chance when Bryant, with the crowd loudly booing, missed a free throw with 18 seconds left and the West up 151-149.

But New Jersey's Deron Williams was short on a 3-pointer, and after the East came up with it, James fired a pass into a crowd that Griffin intercepted.

On a colorful night in Orlando, from pregame performer Nicki Minaj's pink and green hair to the neon sneakers many of the stars wore, Dwight Howard had nine points and 10 rebounds as the game's host.

The NBA's first All-Star game in Orlando in 20 years wasn't close after 2½ quarters. But players always say it gets competitive in the final five minutes, and James was again up for the challenge.

He hiked his scoring average to 25.9 points over his eight All-Star games, and someday he'll probably take the record Bryant set Sunday.

But he couldn't quite catch Kobe in the game.

"Being a competitor, no matter All-Star game or not, you don't want to get blown out," James said. "Of course not, when you're going against your peers and you're going against great players and you're playing with great players. I just wanted to try to pick it up and see if we could make a run at it, and we did."

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