New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) – Russell Westbrook came out firing and couldn’t miss.
And then he kept shooting.
The eccentric and sometimes-overshadowed Westbrook of Oklahoma City shined brightest in the Big Apple.
Westbrook scored 41 points, one shy of the All-Star Game record, to lead the Western Conference to a 163-158 over the Eastern Conference in the 64th All- Star Game on Sunday night.
Wilt Chamberlain holds the all-time mark, netting 42 in the 1962 edition of the All-Star Game.
“It’s amazing. It’s a blessing to be here in New York City,” Westbrook said during the All-Star Game MVP ceremony.
Westbrook put in 27 points over the first 24 minutes to set a record for most in a half and finished 16-of-28 for the West, who have won four of the last five All-Star Games.
He hit eight of his first nine attempts.
“I came out and made a few shots and when I made a few shots, I stayed aggressive,” Westbrook said.
Westbrook has had to carry the Thunder at times this season with reigning MVP Kevin Durant shelved for 27 games so far. The UCLA product recorded four 40- point games over his last nine heading into the break, including 45 and 48- point outings against the New Orleans Pelicans in consecutive games on Feb. 4 and 6.
The 321 total points accumulated also set an all-time record, surpassing the 318 tallied a year ago.
James Harden had 29 points, eight assists and eight rebounds, LaMarcus Aldridge supplied 18 points and Stephen Curry provided 15 points, nine boards and five assists in the triumph.
LeBron James led the East with 30 points, seven helpers and five boards, John Wall registered 19 points and seven assists and Pau Gasol added 10 points and 12 rebounds.
“Don’t get no better, man. You play in the Garden in front of these fans,” James said.
New York’s Carmelo Anthony poured in 14 points on his home floor, but was just 6-of-20 from the floor and 2-of-13 from beyond the arc.
Atlanta, which holds the Eastern Conference’s best record at 43-11, had all four of its All Stars in at once at times. Kyle Korver led the quartet with 21 points, going 7-of-12 from long distance.
“It was great for the Hawks and for the city of Atlanta. It was really cool,” Korver said.
Kyrie Irving’s fancy layup tied the game at 148-148 with 4:19 remaining. He drove from the top of the key, splitting Curry and DeMarcus Cousins, swung the ball from the right to his left and finished the drive with a left-handed scoop shot for a three-point play.
The West, though, ripped off the next seven points. Harden nailed a right wing 3-pointer and a pair of Chris Paul jumpers staked the West to a 155-148 advantage with 2:47 to play. Westbrook’s triple a bit later extended the margin to 158-149 and the East never threatened down the stretch.
James, who netted 15 of his 22 first half points in the opening frame, began the festivities with a pair of emphatic slams, the first a two-handed stuff off a Wall left baseline lob.
After James knocked down consecutive 3-pointers for an 18-16 East edge at the 6:27 mark of the first, the West responded with a 21-4 run. The surge was highlighted when Curry dribbled behind his back and between his legs from the right block before tossing up a behind-the-head flip pass, which a streaking Harden finished powerfully down the lane with a one-handed flush. Westbrook capped the burst with a pair of free throws for a 37-23 West margin.
Westbrook’s dunk at the horn staked the West to a 47-36 cushion after a quarter of play. Westbrook then sunk a trio of triples in a span of 31 seconds to begin the second and extend the spread to 56-36.
The East, however, came storming back once James re-entered the contest midway through the period. Led by the two-time All-Star Game MVP, the East outscored the West by a 25-12 count to close the half. Marc Gasol hacked James on a left corner trey, the second of just two foul calls over the first 24, and James hit all of the bonus shots before Irving’s left corner 3 clawed the East within 83-82 heading into the break.
The 165 combined points in the first half tied an All-Star Game record.
A trio of runs highlighted the start of the third with the West sandwiching an 8-0 and 13-3 swing around an 11-0 East spurt.
Back-to-back Aldridge shots from beyond the arc finished off the West’s first surge and gave them a 91-82 advantage before the East answered with their 11-0 burst.
It was finished off when Lowry floated an underhanded alley-oop pass just inside halfcourt to James, who put it through with a two-handed reverse along the right baseline. The slam gave the East a 93-91 edge.
Harden knocked down a pair of triples around a putback layup to end the West’s 13-3 burst and stake them to a 104-96 margin just prior to the midway point of the period.
Right after he nailed a 3, some fancy dribbling from Curry preceded his fancy scoop layup high off the glass for a 109-105 West spread at the 4:59 mark. Horford slammed home a putback dunk right before the buzzer to knot the contest at 122-122 heading into the fourth.
James is two points of tying Kobe Bryant’s record of 280 career All-Star Game points … The East had won the first four All-Star Games held in New York, including the last one in 1998 … The 48 total 3-pointers made set an All- Star Game record. The previous mark was 30, set last season … Pau Gasol and Marc Gasol became the first set of brothers to start in an All-Star Game … Glen Rice and Irving held the previous record for most points in a half with 24.