Houston, TX – Not only are the Clippers the best team in Los Angeles, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin showcased in front of the world why they could be the best in the entire league.
Paul tallied 20 points and 15 assists, many of which went to Griffin for a plethora of highlight-reel dunks, in the West's 143-138 win over the East in the 62nd edition of the NBA All-Star Game.
Paul, who became the first Clipper to win the game's MVP, became the third player in All-Star Game history to record at least 20 points and 15 assists in the contest. Isiah Thomas did it in 1984, while Magic Johnson accomplished the feat in 1985.
"Pretty special," Paul said of winning the MVP. "It's something I've never done. And it's something that I definitely coming into the game I wasn't trying to achieve or thinking that it might even be possible."
Griffin finished with 19 points on nine field goals -- all dunks --, for the West, which won its third straight All-Star Game and fourth in the past five seasons.
Michael Jordan's comments earlier in the week, in which he stated that he'd take Kobe Bryant over LeBron James, fueled a mini one-on-one battle down the stretch between the superstars.
Bryant got the better of the matchup as he blocked James twice, once on a pull-up jumper at the top of the key and the other on James' driving layup along the left baseline.
"It was all in good spirit," James said of the head-to-head showdown. "It was just two guys who love to compete, love to go at it. It was a lot of fun."
Kevin Durant picked up right where he left off in Los Angeles and Orlando, tallying 30 points and becoming the first player to net at least 30 in three consecutive years.
The former Oklahoma City teammates, Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden all began the second quarter on the floor at the same time. Playing in front of his home crowd, Harden had 15 points.
"It was fun," Durant said of playing with Harden. "Playing with him today made me miss him a little bit. I'm happy he was the All-Star, especially in the city he plays in."
Carmelo Anthony led the East with 26 points and 12 rebounds, while James ended with 19 points, but on just 7-of-18 shooting, after becoming the first player in NBA history to score at least 30 points on 60-plus percent shooting in six straight tilts.
No one may have had a better All-Star Weekend than Kyrie Irving. He had 32 points in the Rising Stars Challenge, won the 3-Point Shootout on Saturday night after making 17 of his first 18 shots in the final round before finishing with 23, and registered 15 points in his first All-Star Game.
Out of the six first-time All-Stars on the East, Paul George led them with 17 points.
The West, which never led by more than eight through the first three periods, took its first double-digit lead with 2:34 left.
After Bryant first blocked James, Durant found himself alone for a dunk for a 136-126 West advantage. Paul's pull-up 3-pointer with Joakim Noah in his face a bit later made it 139-128 and appeared to seal it, but George came back with back-to-back triples from the left corner to cut the deficit to 139-134.
But Griffin split a pair from the foul line, and Bryant stripped James, which led to Griffin throwing a pass off the backboard to himself before finishing with a powerful two-handed dunk to seal the win.
A trio of James dunks highlighted the opening frame, but the West took a 31-26 edge into the second.
James threw down a two-handed flush off a Dwyane Wade pass off the backboard, had a one-handed finish off an Anthony lob on a 3-on-1 break, and capped his personal trifecta by taking off from the dotted line on another break and reaching way back before thunderously sending the ball home.
The only one who didn't seem to have fun Sunday was Chris Bosh, who shot a pair of air balls and was the recipient of some fancy dribbling from Paul and Tony Parker in the second.
Paul dribbled between Bosh's legs along the right baseline, and later in the period, Parker went through the wickets of Bosh again along the right wing.
Brook Lopez's one-handed bounce pass to a cutting Jrue Holiday, who ferciously dunked the ball in with his left hand, gave the East its first advantage at 41-40, with 8:11 to go in the period.
Paul showed off his extraordinary passing skills from there.
Paul displayed some fancy dribbling before his behind-the-back bounce pass hit a cutting Durant in stride and he took off from just inside the right elbow for a ferocious one-handed stuff.
After a few alley-oops from Paul to Griffin, the city of Los Angeles teamed together for a dunk. Paul found Bryant with a pass along the right baseline and Bryant's tip-pass to Griffin led to a one-handed finish.
The West took a 69-65 cushion into the break.
Wade had nine of his 21 points in the third, which was highlighted by Dwight Howard's 3-point make, but the West held a 108-104 spread going into the final stanza.
In the two other times that the city of Houston hosted the All-Star Game, Karl Malone was the MVP in 1989, while James took home the hardware in 2006 ... There were 22 lead changes and seven ties in the contest ... The West shot 55.4 percent (62-of-112) from the floor, while the East finished at 49.5 percent (54-of-109). Bryant had nine points and eight assists.