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Associated Press
NBA player Dwyane Wade visits Ninth Ward residents and signs autographs for six-year-old DiMarco Smith, left, and his mother Rochelle Morgan, right, while passing out hurricane survival kits, New Orleans, Sunday, Feb. 17, 2008. Wade also announced that Wade's World Foundation will be building three homes in the area.

NEW ORLEANS — It wasn't enough that Carlos Boozer had to miss last year's All-Star Game due to a broken left fibula after being picked to the team.

Sunday night, finally getting to make his All-Star debut, Boozer had to miss the entire first quarter before West coach Byron Scott finally summoned him as last man off the bench.

But playing a nice Jazz riff in his franchise's original home city, Boozer didn't take long making up for that lost time at New Orleans Arena. Try eight points and six rebounds in a 9:08 stint in the first half. How about a typical Boozer "double-double," 14 points, 10 rebounds for the night in just 19 minutes.

About the only thing he probably wasn't pleased with was the outcome, with MVP LeBron James leading the way for the underdog East with a near triple-double, 27 points, eight rebounds and nine assists in a pulsating 134-128 win.

"I had a blast," said Boozer. "There was a lot of anticipation, but I enjoyed every minute of it.

"It was fun to watch and I think it was entertaining for the fans."

After watching King James and "Superman," a.k.a. new slam dunk champion Dwight Howard, put on a high wire act that wowed everybody over the first three periods, the last thing anyone had to be suspecting was for a basketball to break out.

But when the West, which had trailed by as much as 95-79 late in the third and 106-93 after three, caught fire in the final period to first tie, then take the lead, suddenly this one was up for grabs. Watching from one of the best seats in the house, Boozer loved it.

"It was exciting," said Boozer, who loved sharing the experience with his family, blowing a kiss to his wife in the second row and waving to his parents further up in the stands.

"There were a lot of great plays being made. It was good to watch and be a fan, because there was some great basketball being played."

His five year wait — which, of course, began in Cleveland before shifting over to Utah, finally over — Boozer couldn't wait to make his all-star debut.

"It was tough," he said before the game. "You make your first All-Star Game but you can't participate. That was was tough for me. So this year's gonna be sweet. I'm gonna savor every moment of it."

He then got to savor the entire first quarter and first 2:52 of the second from the bench, before getting the call to spell Dirk Nowitki. When Amare Stoudemire missed the ensuing free throw as he was entering the game, there was Boozer to pull down the rebound.

Boozer promptly deposited two layups, then continued to pound the boards, finishing the half strong.

"Once you run up and down the court and get loose your blood starts flowing," said Boozer, who shot 7-for-15 on the night. "Then it's just like playing basketball.

"He (Scott) told me I'd play a lot. I know I was out there for most of the second quarter. There was a lot of anticipation. But I enjoyed every moment out there. I was just having a good time. And we did a good job coming back. I thought we were going to get the win, but they finished it off strong."

With Boozer taking a seat for the night with 9:06 remaining the West — which had trailed wire-to-wire until that point down 108-101, made its move, drawing even on Brandon Roy's layup..

Time for those competitive instincts that make these guys a cut about the rest to kick in.

"Ray Allen kept them going," said Boozer of the Celtics' star, a last minute addition due to Caron Butler's injury, who scored 14 of his game-high 28 in the fourth. "Then LeBron finished it off."

Despite the end result, nothing could spoil this night for the Jazz' Carlos Boozer, who'll never forget the night where he finally got to play in his first All-Star Game.

Chances are, though, it won't be the last.