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Irving, East steal NBA All-Star Game shootout

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The NBA All-Star Game had its usual showcase for offense on Feb. 16. However, even by NBA All-Star Game standards, the defense took a night off, as the Eastern and Western Conferences put together the highest scoring midseason classic ever. While the West, or more specifically Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin, ran up much of the score, Kyrie Irving and the East ran it up the most at the end to steal a 163-155 victory.

Ironically, the West underwent a drought in the final moments, as the East scored the final 10 points with under two minutes to go. Beforehand, the West had been up by as many as 18 points, yet the East had no problem getting the necessary offense to rally.

Carmelo Anthony helped with an All-Star Game record eight three-pointers, yet Irving wound up leading the East with 31 points, including 15 in the final quarter. It wasn't the biggest individual performance in a quarter, however, as Griffin started the night with 18 points in the first.

Griffin and Durant carried the West with 38 points each, as Durant's final three gave the West its last lead by 155-153. Yet five free throws by Paul George, a last three from Anthony and a bucket from LeBron James put the East over the top for good.

The Eastern Conference prevailed despite letting the Western Conference get a record-setting 89 points in the first half alone. Once the East got going, the conferences broke the all-time record for most combined points in an NBA All-Star Game by 15.

Irving got the most when it counted, in a rare bright spot for the Cleveland Cavaliers during a rough season. But the more Irving excels, the more the Cavaliers can make a case for others to join him next year, whether or not all-star teammate James is one of them. James was quiet by comparison with 22 points, as he didn't have to duel it out with MVP co-favorite Durant -- although they could always duel in June to make up for it.

Regardless, this is the last time rivals from the same conference will get to work together, before they duke it out for conference championships over the next few months. At that point, it won't take 163 points to win the more important East-West battles in the NBA.

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