NEW YORK (AP) — Mixing Broadway and basketball, this NBA All-Star Game was a West Side Story.
Russell Westbrook scored 41 points, one shy of the All-Star game record, and the Western Conference beat the East 163-158 on Sunday night.
The Oklahoma City speedster had a record 27 points by halftime and closed out the scoring with two free throws, falling one point shy of Wilt Chamberlain’s 42 points in the 1962 game. He was voted the game’s MVP.
The NBA’s return to New York showed off everything about the Big Apple, and by the time Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” played after the game, it was clear Westbrook was king of the hill.
“It’s amazing. It’s a blessing to be here in New York City,” Westbrook said during the MVP ceremony.
James Harden added 29 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the West, which built a 20-point lead in the first half and then pulled away after it was tied at 148 with a little more than 4 minutes remaining.
LeBron James finished with 30 points, but couldn’t lead the East to the victory in his favorite NBA arena.
Harden’s 3-pointer snapped the final tie with 4:02 to play and Chris Paul followed with consecutive baskets. Westbrook’s fifth 3-pointer put it away at 158-149 with 2:22 to go.
Atlanta’s Kyle Korver made seven 3-pointers and scored 21 points for the East, while Washington’s John Wall had 19.
But right from the start, the players were sharing the stage.
Christina Aguilera appeared from behind a giant big apple, and belted out some New York-inspired numbers to start the show, joined on stage by the Rockettes.
Entertainment’s elite were all over the arena, with players hobnobbing with Jay-Z and Floyd Mayweather near their courtside seats at halftime. But the biggest roar came for a star from another sport — politics.
President Bill Clinton, who had a big night of his own at Madison Square Garden when he was nominated here during the 1992 Democratic National Convention, got a pair of loud ovations when he was shown during Queen Latifah’s performance of the national anthem.
Players were quizzed during comedic skits on New York talk and terms, and fuhgeddaboudit, Pau Gasol had no idea what a stoop was. (Stephen Curry knew it was a porch in the front of a building).
Big brother Pau Gasol won the jump ball against Marc to begin the first All-Star game featuring two sibling starters, but for a while it looked as if that would be the East’s only win of the night.
The West shot out to a 20-point lead behind a record 27 first-half points from Westbrook, but the East chipped away and cut it to 83-82 before pop star Ariana Grande’s halftime performance.
It was 122-all after three and close throughout the fourth.
It was New York’s first time hosting the weekend since 1998 and a rare journey to the north for the NBA, which has preferred to stage the festivities in the warmth of the South and West.
Even some of the NBA’s most fashionable had to choose bundling up over dressing up, a concession to the frigid temperatures they faced during the weekend. But next year might be worse, when the game heads north of the border to Toronto.
Carmelo Anthony struggled to 14 points on 6-of-20 shooting for the East in what may have been his final game of the season. The Knicks star has been battling a sore knee for much of the season and may opt for surgery with the team owning the NBA’s worst record.