After winning the Taco Bell Skills Challenge on Saturday night, San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker took to the floor once more in Orlando on Sunday night. This time however, Parker wasn’t the player receiving a trophy, as Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant lead the Western Conference All-Stars to a 152-149 victory with 36 points.
San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich might be smiling when he sees the box score from Sunday, as Parker only logged 12:16 minutes while scoring six points on 3-of-5 shooting, dishing four assists, and grabbing two rebounds.
The Eastern squad made their way back from down 21-points late behind Miami’s LeBron James’ 36 points, but James, ended up being the one to also create more of a headache for himself in the winding moments of the game.
The West came out with an impression of “Lob City” as starting Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul (12 assists) helped the West score 20 points in the paint with alley-oops to his big man Blake Griffin (22 points, 8 rebounds). Durant and Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant (27 points) also knocked down an array of outside shots as the West lead 39-28 after one.
The defense was missing even more in the second quarter as both the West and East shot and made a combined 9-of-18 three pointers as the West outscored the East 49-41 in the second quarter. Parker made a tear drop for his first two points in the second quarter, the West lead 88-69 going into halftime.
In the third quarter, Parker made another shot inside the paint as the East began to make a comeback by outscoring the West 43-36. James made six three pointers in the game, the majority of them coming in the third quarter as the East got 15-points from beyond the arc in the third, the West still lead 124-112 going into the final quarter.
The West looked like they were going to walk away with an easy victory as Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook (21 points) and Minnesota’s Kevin Love (17 points) lead the charge early; but James, New Jersey’s Deron Williams (20 points), Miami’s Dwayne Wade (24 points, 10 assists), and New York’s Carmelo Anthony (19 points) helped the East make a comeback back holding the West to 28-points in the fourth, and putting up 37 points. The East were able to get the ball game down to one point, with 22-seconds remaining, then Bryant was fouled as he missed one big free throw.
The East had a chance to tie or take the lead as the West lead 151-149 with 16 seconds remaining. Chicago head coach Tom Thibedau drew up a play for Williams who missed a three off of a screen, Williams regained possession of the ball and passed to James, but instead of taking the shot, James threw an ill-advised pass to Wade who was on the opposite corner three. The ball never made it to Wade as Griffin caught the ball midway to Wade.
After the game, James looked like he knew he made the wrong decision in deferring, and even Anthony and Bryant were visibly seen telling him he should have taken the shot.
For James and the Heat, that last play may have unleashed even more media havoc and fan pressure for the next few weeks. For Parker and the Spurs (24-10), he played a quiet 12 minutes.
Durant (37 minutes) and Westbrook (27 minutes) played heavy minutes as their team (Thunder 27-7) is currently on a five game winning streak. The Heat (27-7) are tied with the Thunder for the best record in the league.
During the game, TNT analyst Reggie Miller was asked by fellow commentator Steve Kerr, who Miller thought were the only teams that could “realistically” beat the Heat in the playoffs, Miller’s response?
The Oklahoma City Thunder, the Chicago Bulls, and the San Antonio Spurs.