West tops East 196-173 in record-setting All-Star Game

The Western Conference elite topped their East rivals 196-173 in a record-shattering All-Star Game, taking advantage of that contest’s typically non-existent defense.

Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant, who has announced he will retire at the end of the season, joined in the party by scoring 10 points in his final appearance in the NBA’s mid-season showcase.

His peers saluted the 37-year-old, five-time champion on Sunday at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, with Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James saying that “our fans across the world and here in the States and here in Toronto (have been) paying so much respect” to the Lakers icon, adding that “it’s all well-deserved.”

As far as the action on court, the scoring and 3-point shooting barrage was the big story of Sunday’s contest, in which numerous records, including most points by a single team, most points combined and most 3-pointers made by one team and by both teams, were set.

The West connected on 31 of the game’s 51 made shots from behind the arc, with Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Russell Westbrook accounting for seven en route to capturing All-Star Game MVP honors.

Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry, the reigning league MVP and league’s best 3-point shooter, scored 26 points on 10-of-18 shooting overall, including 6-of-11 from distance.

Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden also was a big contributor, tying Westbrook with a team-high seven 3-pointers and finishing with 23 points.

New Orleans Pelicans power forward Anthony Davis did not make any 3-point shots, but he took advantage of the lax defense to score 24 points on 12-of-13 shooting. Westbrook’s teammate, Kevin Durant chipped in with 23 points.

For the East, Paul George scored 41 points and made nine 3-point shots, tops for the game in both categories.

The Indiana Pacers star has made a remarkable recovery after suffering a gruesome leg injury in a U.S. national team scrimmage in August 2014, a month before the start of the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain.

George returned to action at the end of last season, and has reaffirmed his status as one of the NBA’s elite players thus far in 2015-2016.

The Washington Wizards’ John Wall added 22 points for the East, but that squad’s biggest superstar, the Cavaliers’ James, had a quiet night with just 13 points.

Spain’s Pau Gasol, a forward-center for the Chicago Bulls and the only foreign player on either team, scored nine points in 15 minutes of action.

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