On Sunday night’s 2013 All-Star Game in Houston, the East and West defenses ratcheted upward in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, as is the case with most All-Star games. Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant ensured that an East victory was out of reach by making a crucial block on Miami Heat forward LeBron James in the final seconds of the fourth quarter to help the West earn a 143-138 victory.
With the East trailing by eight and less than 50 seconds remaining, Bryant glued himself to James as he took the inbounds pass and dribbled the length of the floor. James went up for a deficit-cutting baseline shot, but Bryant meticulously timed the attempt and swatted all leather, sending the ball out of bounds.
"I think we played really good defense at the end of the game as a team," said Durant. "Kobe was really going with the ball. It's tough to stop LeBron, but he did his best.“
It was Bryant’s second block on James. The first came at the 2:39 mark when James went off a screen and attempted a jump shot at the top of the key. Bryant recovered defensively and blocked the ball to Durant who took it to the other end for a dunk.
"It was a great block," said Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant, who had a game-high 30 points. "I haven't really seen any MVP get a jumper blocked like that. It was a really great play."
James and Bryant went one-on-one in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter. The matchup was particularly intriguing given that it was Michael Jordan’s 50th birthday, and the two superstars are often juxtaposed with Jordan in terms of skill and achievement.
Bryant played 27 minutes and finished with nine points, eight assists, two steals and the two key blocks. James played 30 minutes and had 19 points and five assists.
"I'm known for my defense. I can defend. I'm pretty smart with my defense," said Bryant, a nine-time All-Defensive First Team selectee.
Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul earned the Most Valuable Player honors with 20 points, 15 assists and four steals. The East was led by New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony who had 26 points and 12 rebounds.