HOUSTON — There were reminders everywhere of the greatness Chris Paul brings to the Clippers and the greatness he could have brought to the Los Angeles Lakers had NBA Commissioner David Stern never uttered the phrase basketball reasons.
Paul threw alley-oop passes to Blake Griffin, Lob City achieving liftoff inside the Toyota Center.
He made a flurry of shots, including a memorable pull-up 3-pointer over Joakim Noah.
He also came up with a steal and found All-Star teammate Kobe Bryant for a layup and there was nothing Stern, who voided the proposed Paul-to-the-Lakers trade before last season, could do about it.
Paul and Bryant were a duo to behold, if only for one night, during the Wests 143-138 victory over the East on Sunday.
Paul, a former Wake Forest star, collected 20 points, 15 assists and four steals on the way to being selected the games most valuable player, and Bryant made a stunning pair of late-game blocks on LeBron James, showing that hes got plenty left in his 15th All-Star appearance.
Pretty special, Paul said of his first MVP award. Its something Ive never done. And its something that I definitely coming into the game I wasnt trying to achieve or thinking that it might even be possible.
It seemed doable practically from tipoff, when Paul fed Griffin for dunks on two of the Wests first three possessions. But Paul had to contend with another scoring barrage from Kevin Durant, who finished with 30 points on 13-for-24 shooting.
Durant became the first player to score at least 30 points in three consecutive All-Star games.
Paul, the first Clipper to win the All-Star MVP award, also had his way with Noah when the Chicago Bulls center came out on the perimeter to defend him in the fourth quarter. Paul repeatedly dribbled between his legs before pulling up for a 3-pointer.
I didnt know what I was going to do, Paul said. Part of me wanted to try some moves and try and get by him. He just backed up so I figured Id shoot it. Dont waste any time.