West 136, East 132
The West Wins in Waning Moments
Whether it be regular season, playoffs or the All-Star Game, you can take Tim Duncan to the bank.
Duncan's patented bank shot with 26 seconds left provided the final lead change of a seesaw fourth quarter and helped the Western Conference to a 136-132 victory over the Eastern Conference at the Staples Center.
With flashy performances from hometown heroes Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal, the West won for the third straight time. But with the game in the balance, West coach Flip Saunders went to Duncan, the superstar forward of the NBA champion San Antonio Spurs.
Working against New Orleans Hornets center Jamaal Magloire, Duncan buried a turnaround bank shot to give the West a 133-132 edge, the sixth lead change of the final period.
"It was a play that Flip drew up a couple of options to it," Duncan said. "I was kind of the third one."
"Timmy is one of those guys, he makes big plays," Saunders said.
The East had two more chances, but Orlando's Tracy McGrady threw away a lob pass and - after Seattle's Ray Allen made two free throws - Milwaukee's Michael Redd missed a potential tying 3-pointer.
Duncan, who shared All-Star MVP honors with O'Neal in 2000, sank a free throw to seal it. He had a highly characteristic 14 points and 13 rebounds as part of a balanced attack that was tilted in the West's favor by Lakers teammates O'Neal and Bryant.
"My game doesn't change from a regular game to an All-Star Game," Duncan said. "I wish I could be involved in the high-flying stuff, but that's just not what I do."
O'Neal had 24 points, 11 rebounds, a handful of thunderous dunks and several comedic moments as he captured his second All-Star MVP award.
"I'm not one really known known to be taking over an All-Star Game," O'Neal said. "I said to myself if it's going good, nobody is really shining, I'm going to go ahead and go for it."
Bryant, who arrived late to the arena, had 20 points and five steals. He heard some boos from the crowd when he opted for a layup rather than a dunk on a breakaway in the third quarter.
"I just didn't have the momentum so I just laid it in," he said.
For the third time in four years, the midseason showcase came down to the closing moments. A free throw by Duncan tied it at 127-127 with 2:40 to go, but McGrady, who scored 13 points, sank a long jumper. O'Neal tied it again as he hurtled down the lane for a powerful dunk at the 1:57 mark as New Jersey Nets guard Jason Kidd ran for cover.
"I just went in and took it and took 2.9 steps and threw it down," O'Neal said.
"You've got to think about your family," Kidd said. "I don't know if he has an anti-lock brake system but I was just going to get out of the way."
McGrady made a nifty lefthanded drive and Bryant drilled a long jumper before McGrady gave the East its last lead at 132-131 by splitting a pair of free throws with 37 seconds left.
"It was a nail-biter at the end," Bryant said. "It was a good show."
The West had seven players in double figures, as did the East. Allen and Houston center Yao Ming scored 16 points each for the West, while Magloire and New Jersey Nets forward Kenyon Martin- each playing in his first All-Star Game - came off the bench to score 19 and 17 points, respectively.
O'Neal was highly entertaining. He took a couple of spins at point guard in the first half, having his drive swatted out of bounds by Magloire. He later responded by pounding a shot by Magloire into the seats.
"I had a lot of fun," O'Neal said. "A couple of people told me if I get it, there's an opening, they want me to go coast to coast."
In the third quarter, O'Neal scored 10 points on the court and countless points off it. One of his dunks rocked the backboard stanchion so severely it prompted referee Steve Javie to ask if there was an extra one in the building. Seconds later, he scored on a post move, grabbed a fan's video camera and turned it on himself, wiping his brow for effect.
NBA scoring leader Allen Iverson of Philadelphia, who came in with the highest average in All-Star Game history, became a passer, handing out 11 assists with just three points. He had a pair of long lobs that Toronto's Vince Carter turned into jaw-dropping dunks in the first quarter, which ended with the East holding a 33-31 lead.
"It was funny," Iverson said. "The Indiana coaches said, 'If we put you back in at the 2-guard, will you shoot the ball?'"
Magloire, whose presence in this game was questioned, was the best player on the floor in the second quarter, scoring eight points. McGrady reprised his self-pass off-the-glass jam late in the period, helping the East to a 64-58 advantage.
"I felt in my heart that I am an All-Star," Magloire said. "This won't be the last time I will be an All-Star."
Iverson set up McGrady and Carter for trampoline-act dunks early in the third quarter, but O'Neal began to assert himself shortly thereafter as the West turned a 71-62 deficit into an 87-81 lead.
"When you have guys like Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady, you just throw it up to them," Iverson said.