What a scene.
In the biggest indoor arena in the world, with the most people watching a basketball game in the history of the sport, we were obligated to take down some notes for you.
Of course we’ll follow every move of Pau Gasol, L.A.’s lone participant as Kobe Bryant (ankle) observed from the sidelines in street clothes (admittedly, that take, and keep an eye on the rest of the 2010 All-Star game’s highlights.
First, your starters, then a quarter-by-quarter synopsis:
Western Conference: Steve Nash, Carmelo Anthony, Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan and Amare Stoudemire
Eastern Conference: Joe Johnson, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Kevin Garnett and Dwight Howard
12:00 There was a full running diary’s worth of action before the game even tipped, including Usher’s performance of “More” and “Yeah” as the East and West were respectively introduced. Perhaps more notable than his song choices were his clothing choices, which included a Dwight-Howard-like sleeveless, skin-tight vest that looked like body armor and black leather capri pants over boots (never seen that before). Both Pau and Kobe received hearty ovations from the 100,000 odd people in attendance.
One other note: ESPN.com’s John Hollinger had a funny tweet after the Canadian Tenors (who were very good) sang “Oh Canada:” – “Tough week to book A-list Canadian talent,” referring of course to the Olympics in Vancouver.
8:00 Remember the scowl on Stan Van Gundy’s face that occurred just a few times (OK … more than a few) during the NBA Finals last season? He brought it out for the first time when his center, Howard, jacked up a three. Of course, the triple swished through the net. Nice.
2:50 Before the game, Lakers.com webmaster Ty Nowell and I conducted an MVP podcast to make things a bit more interesting. After almost 10 minutes, one of Team Trudell’s picks, Carmelo Anthony, had put up 13 points on 6-of-11 from the field.
0:52.0 Gasol scored the final two buckets of the first quarter for the West, first off a pretty baseline spin move around Howard that Bosh goal-tended, and second with a righty touch shot off glass after up-faking Howard. Gasol had also blocked Howard at the other end, though he was called for a personal foul. The quarter itself ended with the East holding a 37-34 lead, with Carmelo Anthony’s 13 points leading all scorers.
8:02 With West Head Coach George Karl giving him some extra run, Gasol showed off his typical efficiency, making 4-of-6 shots including a two-handed dunk that got him to nine points with three rebounds, a steal and a block.
5:07 With the West up 57-55, the players seemed a tad more interested in the Cowboys cheerleader dance than the dry-erase board during a time out. This shocks no one. Meanwhile, weird stat alert: 10 different Western stars had exactly one turnover, no one had two. David Lee took that early honor with three of his own.
0:15.8 The half’s leading scorer, Anthony, added a layup to reach 17 points for the West, which trailed 76-69. Gasol played a total of 10:17 for his aforementioned stats, about which Phil Jackson can’t complain. We also saw Magic Johnson get introduced with three other 1992 Dream Team members (Mullin, Pippen and Ewing), and Derek Fisher address the crowd about the NBA Cares program while flanked by Boys and Girls Club (Arlington) members. Up next … Alicia Keys and Shakira at halftime.
12:00 Gasol, being the only fluent Spanish-speaking All-Star (to my knowledge, anyway), must have a nice edge in befriending Shakira, right? Oh wait … Al Horford’s from Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, and is also fluent. Never mind.
5:40 The D-Wade – LeBron combo started to get loose in the third, pushing the East’s lead to 16 on a series of alley-oops, including LeBron’s two-handed reverse slam off Wade’s 10th assist. Of course, even a 30-point lead isn’t safe in the All-Star game. Moments later, Gasol returned for the West for his second set of minutes.
0:01.0 Kevin Durant’s deep three-pointer as time expired allowed the West to get within nine points heading into the fourth quarter. Gasol grabbed one rebound and missed two shots (fouled on both, obviously) in his short stint. After the quarter, Mavs Owner Mark Cuban and Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones announced the amazing attendance at 108,713, surpassing the already-high expectations and setting a Guinness World Record for the most people ever to watch a basketball game.
7:25 Chauncey Billups, who nailed nine three-pointers on the Lakers last Friday, made his fourth of the game to get the West within a single point of the East, capping a nice run for a bench crew including Gasol, Deron Wiliams, Kevin Durant and Zach Randolph that was all around +10 for the game. Karl responded by keeping his reserves on the floor for an extended period.
3:52 Gasol checked out of the game, retiring with 13 points and six boards, and accomplishing his only goal of staying healthy (OK, having fun too). The West had begun to pull away as Wade’s slam made it 135-126.
1:46 Wade, who’d been fantastic all night (26 points on 12-of-16 and a game-high 11 assists), committed a mistake by reaching in on Dirk after a rebound to send the German to the foul line for two. Dirk made both, and since Billups had nailed his fifth three on the previous possession, brought the West two within two. Then after Bosh’s missed alley-oop finish, Billups sunk a jumper to tie the game with 1:05 to play.
0:12.7 Atonement, thy name was Dwyane Wade, who first stripped Williams on D as the West went for a go-ahead bucket, but then drew an unsolicited reach in foul from Williams (who must have thought that his team was still trailing). Wade made both, but Dirk then drew a foul when Howard jumped into him to tie it at 139.
And for the game winner? Well … it was more free throws, hit by Chris Bosh. ‘Melo had a chance to steal the game back with a buzzer-beating three, but missed as the East sealed the deal.
Wade won MVP honors (Ty had him … sigh). There’s always next year.