Love joins NBA's show on special All-Star night

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 27, 2012 - 7:28 AM

He scored 17 points and got seven rebounds in an entertaining game that came down to the wire.

ORLANDO — Timberwolves forward Kevin Love rocked a tuxedo to his second consecutive NBA All-Star Game appearance on Sunday night because it was, after all, a very special night.

"It's Oscar night," he said. "I had to look my best."

The Western Conference's surprisingly tense, suddenly entertaining 152-149 victory over the East ultimately proved he was dressed perfectly for the occasion.

"It's show business," Love said.

And Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant, Miami's LeBron James and Dwyane Wade and Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant, among many others, put on the show on a night when the West team led by 20 points with eight minutes remaining but by just one with 22 seconds left.

Owner of a four-year contract extension to stay in Minnesota but an L.A. guy at heart, Love chased his first All-Star double-double only to finish three rebounds shy on Sunday night with his 17-point, seven-rebound game.

Durant took home the Most Valuable Player trophy on the same day Love shipped back to Target Center the shiny piece of hardware he won for beating Durant in the All-Star Saturday Night three-point contest in a tiebreaker shootout.

By the time it was all over, Durant and James had each scored 36 points -- six points shy of Wilt Chamberlain's 50-year-old All-Star record of 42 points -- and Bryant had surpassed Michael Jordan to become the NBA's all-time All-Star scoring leader.

Wade reached the third triple-double in All-Star history, a 24-point, 10-rebound, 10-assist performance that puts him on a short list with James (last year) and Jordan (1997) as the only players to do so.

"It's fun to watch, it's fun to play," Love said after playing 18 1/2 minutes one year after he played less than 12 in his first All-Star Game. "Obviously, it's a high-wire act."

Up on that high wire, the West set an All-Star record by scoring 88 points before halftime, one-tenth of a point more than East coach Tom Thibodeau's Chicago Bulls have allowed per game this season.

"Everybody was saying maybe he'd break a clipboard at halftime or something," said Love, whose team led by 19 points by then.

The game's nature changed when Wade committed a hard foul on Bryant early in the third quarter, hitting him across the nose and drawing blood. "I obviously didn't try to draw no blood, but I took a foul," Wade said. "Kobe fouled me two times in a row, so he's still got one up on me."

The West still led by 20 points early in the fourth quarter before the East scored 12 unanswered points. James made nine of 10 shots and five of his All-Star Game-record-tying six three-pointers in the second half.

The East had its final chances as New Jersey's Deron Williams missed an open three and James threw away a pass with 1.9 seconds left that Bryant chided him for not shooting instead.

"Yeah, he was telling me to shoot it," James said. "Definitely wish I could have that one back."

By then, Love was sitting and watching a game in which he led every single superstar on the floor in plus-minus rating with a plus-16.

"This year I just settled in, felt good, knew that I belonged," he said.

And he rocked that tux, even though he was never nominated for an Oscar.

"Maybe I won best supporting, though," he said.

  • NBA ALL-STAR GAME WEST 152, EAST 149

    Up next for Wolves: 9:30 p.m. Tuesday at Los Angeles Clippers • TV: FSN (830-AM)

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