Paul over Durant as NBA ASG MVP
HOUSTON — If there was any question whether the transition from young to old in the NBA and the Lakers to the Clippers in Los Angeles was all but complete, the West defeated in the East, 143-138, Sunday night at the Toyota Center in the annual All-Star Game and Clippers guard Chris Paul was named Most Valuable Player.
Paul could have been a Laker prior to the 2012-13 season had outgoing NBA Commissioner David Stern allowed his trade from the Hornets. Instead, the deal was negated and Paul was swapped to the Clippers, who for the first time in their checkered history not only own L.A., but are among the league’s elite teams.
Paul had 20 points, 15 assists and four steals on Saturday night, grabbing MVP honors away from Kevin Durant of the Thunder, who paced all scorers with 30 points. Many of them came on thunderous dunks that had the sellout crowd of 16,101 on its collective feet. Durant is the first player in All-Star Game history to have at least 30 points in three successive games — all won by the West. He was the MVP of last year’s game in Orlando, which the West won by three.
“This is pretty special, pretty special,” Paul said. “It’s something I’ve never done and it’s something coming into this game I never thought I’d achieve. I told [Durant] early in the first quarter, ‘If they score anything, you run. I’ll get you the ball. You score. I want to be the one to give it to you.'”
That he did. The 15 assists for Paul reminded long time observers of Magic Johnson and John Stockton and he was the first player to have as many as 15 assists in an All-Star Game since Gary Payton in 1995.
“He deserved it,” Durant said about Paul winning the MVP hardware. “He had great passes, made big steals and made big buckets. He played a hell of a game and congratulations to him. It was a pleasure playing with him.”
Lakers stellar guard Kobe Bryant was the MVP two years ago in the Staple Center, the building in downtown L.A. shared by the Lakers and Clippers, who have not won an NBA championship. The Clippers, in fact, haven’t even won a playoff series since moving from Buffalo to San Diego in 1978. They shifted to L.A. after the1983-84 season. The Lakers, of course, have won 11 titles since the team moved west from Minneapolis.
Bryant, a four-time All-Star Game MVP, had nine points and eight assists as Durant and Paul controlled the pace of the game. During last year’s feverish finish Miami’s Dwayne Wade smacked Bryant in the face, breaking his nose and giving him a concussion.
For the East on Sunday night, Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks paced that squad with 26 points. Wade added 21 and had seven assists. His Heat teammate LeBron James added 19 points.
The East made it close until Bryant resoundingly blocked a James shot, sending Durant streaking down the court to hit a breakaway jam that gave the West a 10-point lead with 2:31 left to play.
“I’m shooting a lot of shots, 24 shots in 31 minutes,” said Durant, whose young Oklahoma City team lost to the Heat last year in the NBA Finals. “I’m just out there having fun. I played a lot of street basketball. I played a lot of celebrity games. This is my type of ballgame up and down. The point guards made it easy for me. It was fun.”
And with that the transition from young to old in the NBA seemed just about complete.