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Durant, Paul lead West to All-Star win

Associated Press
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Associated Press

The Westís Chris Paul shoots around the Eastís LeBron James. Paul had 20 points and 15 assists in earning All-Star game MVP honors.

HOUSTON – Kevin Durant scored 30 points, MVP Chris Paul had 20 points and 15 assists, and the Western Conference beat the East 143-138 on Sunday night in the NBA All-Star game.

Blake Griffin finished with 19 points and Kobe Bryant blocked LeBron James twice in the final minutes, joining Paul to turn the West’s victory into something of an L.A. story.

James scored 19 points but shot only 7 of 18 after having no shooting troubles during the latter part of the season’s first half. Carmelo Anthony led the East with 26 points and 12 rebounds.

Jordan turns 50

Michael Jordan turned 50 on Sunday, giving this year’s All-Stars a chance to reflect on his illustrious career and how much he still means to the sport.

In a weekend filled with the NBA’s greatest players, Jordan was the topic no one could stop talking about. Though he hasn’t played since the 2002-03 season, Jordan’s influence still permeates the league and its players.

“Every kid that wanted to play basketball, that could play, that couldn’t play, you tried to emulate Michael Jordan,” Heat star Dwyane Wade said. “That’s why there will never be another one of him. He the first of his kind. Everything he did was groundbreaking. He did it with so much flare and so much pizazz that even today people are still trying to be like Mike.”

Jordan won six titles and five MVP awards during a career spent mostly with the Bulls that began in 1984.

Jordan was in Houston this weekend and celebrated his birthday early with a private bash Friday with guests including LeBron James and Kobe Bryant.

Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard is so impressed with Jordan that he said he’s like a real version of Superman.

“Be Like Mike” was more than a marketing campaign. It was a dream for many of today’s players.

“He’s amazing,” Howard said. “He’s one of the reasons why we played basketball. He inspired us to do great things. I hear his voice sometimes on commercials, it makes you want to get out there and try to do something.”

Jordan retired twice before finally leaving the game for good at age 39. Some people wondered this weekend whether he could still play in the NBA, despite reaching the age where he qualifies for an AARP card.

Rookie dunk champ

Toronto rookie Terrence Ross beat defending champion Jeremy Evans to win the slam-dunk contest during All-Star Saturday night.

The 6-foot-6 Toronto rookie leapfrogged Michael Costolo, the son of Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, whipped the ball between his legs and hammered home a one-handed dunk to beat Evans.

“I told him the day before that I was going to jump over him, but I never told him I was going to go through the legs,” Ross said. “He was kind of nervous. When I first grabbed him, he said, ‘You’re not going to hit me, right?’ I said, ‘No, I’m not going to hit you.’ ”

Ross seemed to be unsure of himself in the beginning, botching his first three dunk attempts in the first round. The crowd exploded when he finally pulled it off – flicking the ball behind his back on the way up and hammering home a one-handed dunk.

He earned a perfect 50 and immediately relaxed.

“This is honestly my first really big dunk contest, so I was nervous,” said Ross, the eighth overall pick in last year’s draft out of Washington. “And not making a dunk didn’t make it easy. I had to get myself together.”

Ross earned 58 percent of the fan vote in the championship round.

Kenneth Faried, James White, Gerald Green and Eric Bledsoe also were in the field.

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