Kobe Bryant is a winner in last NBA All-Star appearance

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Western Conference looks on in the first half against the Eastern Conference during the NBA All-Star Game 2016 at the Air Canada Centre on February 14, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario. NOTE TO

Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

TORONTO– With the mercury stubbornly hovering in the single digits and flirting with zero (Fahrenheit) by game time, the Air Canada Centre had plenty of heat to go around as the NBA’s best and brightest scorched the nylon in a record-setting affair Sunday night that saw the West defeat the East 196-173.

The NBA’s first ever All-Star weekend to be hosted outside of the United States was capped by a suitably competitive game dominated by two outstanding performances. Paul George of the Indiana Pacers set a new All-Star Game record with nine made three-pointers en route to a 41-point outburst. With defense in short supply it was a second-straight year that the game saw a new all-time record for most points. Also for a second straight year? Russell Westbrook won the game’s MVP award. Westbrook topped George’s scoring outburst by pouring in a complete game that had him pacing the West with 31 points, eight boards, five assists and five steals. Both players’ performances were overshadowed by the CN-sized presence of Kobe Bryant’s looming retirement and Kobe didn’t disappoint by contributing 10 points and overall just soaking up the moment.

The game started a little sloppily with both squads struggling to find some offensive cohesiveness. The lack of rhythm, as is so often the case for the ASG, fueled the players to bring out their improv and iso-desires and the first quarter was punctuated with comical turnovers off botched alley-oops and the requisite sick jams one would expect to see from the likes of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Kevin Durant. Toronto Raptor, DeMar DeRozan, got the hometown crowd on its feet with a furious reverse 360 jam that would have been suitable for Saturday evening’s Dunk Contest.

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The Raptors faithful made it clear that the ACC was, indeed, THEIR house as the applause and cheers for teammates Kyle Lowry and DeRozan during introductions were louder, though not longer, than for even Kobe. Downtown Toronto proved itself to be a stellar host for the entire All-Star Weekend, with celebs and other professional athletes flocking to town to catch the All-Star Saturday night festivities that featured the greatest dunk contest ever and an entertaining duel between #SplashBros Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry.

 

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