Westbrook nabs back-to-back MVPs in highest-scoring All-Star Game

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Russell Westbrook put up 23 shots on his way to his second-straight MVP. (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Russell Westbrook put up 23 shots on his way to his second-straight MVP. (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

The NBA All-Star Game rarely features any defensive effort outside of the final few minutes of a close game, but Sunday's contest at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto featured even more offense than usual. The West led most of the way to capture an absurd 196-173 win, but this was one night for which the final score said very little about the quality of play on either side.

Both teams broke the previous single-team scoring record of 163 points (set by the East in 2014 and West as 2015) to shatter the overall scoring record of 321 set just a season ago. All participants scored as much as they could and seemed to have lots of fun in a showcase that only occasionally resembled a regular NBA game.

[Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]

Naturally, such a high-scoring game featured a number of players with impressive stats. Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook joined St. Louis Hawks legend Bob Pettit (1958 and 1959) as just the second player to capture back-to-back All-Star MVP award with 31 points, eight rebounds, five assists, and five steals. Westbrook looked particularly intent on putting up as many shots as possible (he had a team-high 23 field-goal attempts) and grabbing his second-straight trophy.

However, Indiana Pacers wing Paul George was the high scorer with 41 points (16-of-26 FG), just one point short of the all-time record set by Wilt Chamberlain in 1962. George attempted to get the record a few times in the closing possessions, but Gregg Popovich inserted Draymond Green to lock him down and made sure that Anthony Davis was lying in wait to snuff out any attempts at the rim. He will have to settle for a record nine made three-pointers (on 19 attempts).

Plus, LeBron James set a new record for career All-Star scoring with 291 points. That puts him one point ahead of Kobe Bryant, who scored 10 points in his final All-Star Game. Not that LeBron cared:

There were many more scoring and shooting records. The West put up the most points in a first half (92), the most points in any half (104 in the second, breaking the new record set in the first half), the most three-pointers made (31) and attempted (149), the most field goals made (82) and attempted (149). The East's numbers look minor by comparison, but we're still talking about some of the biggest totals in All-Star history.

MVP favorite Stephen Curry was also very watchable, scoring 26 points on 10-of-18 shooting from the field. He had a few dunks, too, but it's fair to say his performance will be remembered most for this shot from halfcourt on the West's final possession:

Kobe Bryant gained more attention Sunday for what he had done in the past rather than what he did in this game, but that was always likely to be the case. After his pregame tribute, he received one final All-Star sendoff when Gregg Popovich subbed him out with 66 seconds remaining in regulation:

There were plenty of other highlights — as with every other All-Star Game, anyone watching probably lost track of all the dunks somewhere around the midway point of the second quarter. Yet this game seemed a little different than others, or perhaps just an extreme case of the NBA All-Star Game that's always existed. At times, players appeared to encounter such little defensive resistance that their dunks had to be neither especially difficult nor creative. The lanes to the hoop were so open that these amazing athletes had little reason to show off their ability to create on the fly or adjust in tight spaces.

The All-Star Game has never featured much defense, but there are usually a few minutes here and there where everyone turns it on for the sake of the viewing public. Toronto got a nice show (and another from Sting!), but it's hard to say that anyone will remember much of this game in the years to come. It was fun while it lasted, though, which is arguably enough. See you all next February.

- - - - - - -

Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at efreeman_ysports@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

Follow @FreemanEric