ORLANDO, Fla. – Kobe Bryant walked quickly out of the Amway Center's visiting locker room late Sunday, surrounded by his entourage. After making his way to the arena's loading dock and climbing into a black Escalade, Bryant gently leaned his head back and closed his eyes. Within moments, the SUV was gone, Bryant leaving without so much of a word after a record-setting – albeit painful – night helping the West win the All-Star game.
Bryant scored 27 points to push his All-Star career total to 271 and break Michael Jordan's NBA record, but he also broke his nose courtesy of a hard foul from Dwyane Wade. The Lakers announced the injury more than three hours after the game and a league source later told Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski that Bryant also suffered a mild concussion from the foul.
The West was leading 96-84 with 8:48 left in the third quarter when Wade clobbered Bryant on the head as he drove to the basket. The Lakers star immediately went to the bench and was treated for a bloody nose before making both of his free throws.
"After that foul, the intensity really went up," East guard Rajon Rondo said.
Bryant broke Jordan's record on a breakaway dunk with 4:56 left in the third quarter, but the game didn't truly become interesting until late in the fourth. After Wade made two free throws with 22.8 seconds left to bring the East within a point, East forward Paul Pierce began screaming, "Foul Kobe! Foul Kobe! He's going to miss."
Bryant is a career 83.7 percent free-throw shooter and the West also had Blake Griffin, a notoriously bad foul shooter, on the floor, but Pierce didn't care.
"I did say foul [Bryant] because last week he missed two crucial free throws against Dallas," Pierce said. "That's not normal for him."
Bryant challenged Pierce to bet on the free throws. Pierce declined but didn't stop talking. After Bryant made the first free throw, he barked at Pierce again. Pierce barked back. Bryant missed the second foul shot and Pierce quickly responded by shouting, "I told you. I told you. I told you he was going to miss one."
"It was just some friendly heckling and I was just trying to get in his head so he can miss the free throw," Pierce said. "Nothing more, nothing less. Then he came over to the corner for a little trash-talking. We are both kind of known for doing a little trash-talking in our day, but we laughed about it right after the game.
"Kobe usually makes those shots in those situations. I don't know if I had an effect on him or not. I think I did."
Bryant's miss left the West clinging to a two-point lead with 18.1 seconds left, and the East called timeout. When the teams returned to the court, Bryant started yapping at LeBron James. James passed to Deron Williams, who missed a 3-pointer then threw the rebound back to James. Bryant screamed at him to shoot, but James instead threw away a pass.
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"I seen my teammate open for a split-second; I seen him open the first time and I didn't release the ball," James said. "When I tried to throw it late … that's what usually happens – it results in a turnover."
Bryant, who also had headaches after Wade's foul, left the arena late Sunday with a victory, one broken record and a broken nose.
"He's not going to let anybody know he is in pain nor had any issues," West coach Scott Brooks said. "But the guy is as competitive as anybody. He was going to give everything and not let us know."
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