Russell Westbrook delivered a monster scoring effort en route to MVP honors as the West topped the East, 163-158, in the 2015 NBA All-Star Game on Sunday in New York City. It was an entertaining affair full of alley-oops, fancy passes and lackadaisical defense, just what fans expected from the league's best in a meaningless exhibition.
The Thunder guard was the star of the show, narrowly missing out on the All-Star scoring record with 41 points, but there was no shortage of exciting highlights and enjoyable moments from players across both rosters. If you missed the game on Sunday night, or simply want to catch up, here's what happened at Madison Square Garden:
Russell Westbrook, MVP
There wasn't much debate about who would be named most valuable player after Westbrook's stunning performance. The OKC guard was unstoppable in the first half, scoring a record-setting 27 points in just 11 minutes of action, then followed it up with a productive second half to nearly set the All-Star scoring record.
Westbrook ultimately fell a point short of Wilt Chamberlain's record from 1962, but it was still incredible watching him go 16-of-28 from the field in just 26 minutes of playing time. That's more than a shot per minute, which deserves some appreciation on its own. Not as much as this alley-oop, though:
The scoring record was broken again
A year after the league's stars set the All-Star records for team points (163) and overall points (318) in New Orleans, they were back at it again this year. The two teams combined for a record-breaking 321 points in front of the Madison Square Garden crowd, and the West tied the single team high with its 163-point outburst.
The overall scoring total averages out to nearly seven points per minute, which is probably as outrageous as it sounds. The two teams didn't even shoot that well, combining to hit 49 percent of their shots, but the sheer volume of attempts was huge. We're talking a shot every 11 seconds in a game with a 24-second shot clock. Nobody was wasting any time trying to get those buckets.
Look at this shot chart
You were probably thinking to yourself somewhere during the game, "Man, these guys are taking a lot of three-pointers." Well guess what? You were totally right.
The West shot 25-of-65 (38 percent) from three-point range, while the East shot 23-of-68 (34 percent). Of the 263 shot attempts fired up in the game, an incredible 51 percent of them came from beyond the arc. Six different players took at least 10 three-point attempts, including Kyle Korver and James Harden, who both went 7-of-12 to lead the way. Only seven players failed to make one attempt.
I see your alley-oop and raise you an alley-oop
Seriously, there were so many amazing alley-oops in this game that it's hard to keep track of them all. The monster one from Westbrook posted above was just vicious, and it's one of many that underscored just how athletic these guys are.
Early on, there was some fancy maneuvering by Stephen Curry to set up James Harden:
Then there was LeBron James with the tenacious reverse putback off a Kyle Lowry pass:
Even Dirk Nowitzki got in on the action:
I don't know if any of those tops the Westbrook slam, but man, if you're into alley-oops (and three-pointers), the All-Star Game was truly a treat.
Not a great night for the Knicks
All-Star Weekend has been a celebration of New York City's unique relationship with basketball, but it wasn't exactly a resounding success for the city's NBA franchise. The Knicks' lone All-Star, Carmelo Anthony, had a rough night on the court, then word came out after the game that Amar'e Stoudemire was bought out of his contract.
When the game was originally awarded to NYC, it was easy to picture the event being a showcase for the Knicks as one of the league's marquee franchises. Instead, they were largely out of sight except for Anthony's off performance -- 14 points on 6-of-20 shooting, several key misses down the stretch -- and the sad end to Stoudemire's tenure with the franchise.
Maybe the day will signal a new era for the Knicks with Stoudemire in the rearview mirror, but it probably wasn't the dream weekend the franchise hoped for.