Kobe Bryant’s All-Star Takeover; LeBron’s triple-double tops MJ

If you know anything at all about the NBA, you should’ve seen this coming. Up until last night’s All-Star Game, the weekend had been all about Blake Griffin. And even though Kobe Bryant said the rookie could have Los Angeles, we all knew better. There was no way Kobe would let the All-Star stage come and go, especially in his city, without grabbing the spotlight … Bryant (37 points, 14 rebounds) went H.A.M. in the first three quarters, staking his claim to a record-tying fourth All-Star MVP award (Bob Pettit has four) while the West built a lead they would never relinquish. Kobe had more dunks last night than he’s had all season, throwing down double-pump reverses and baseline up-and-unders with two hands. He even got in a two-hander in transition just before a streaking LeBron James could deliver one of his catch-from-behind blocks, then slapped LBJ on the butt like, “Maybe next time, kid.” … The East buckled down in the fourth, playing actual defense as Kevin Garnett cheered on LeBron and Chris Bosh from the bench like they’d grown up together. They got to within two points in the final three minutes before Kevin Durant (34 points) hit a pull-up two, and a three-pointer from the wing. Pau Gasol added some big offensive boards and buckets as the West ultimately held off the rally for a 148-143 win … LeBron (29 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists) put together only the second triple-double in All-Star history, and his stat line was more impressive than Michael Jordan‘s 14-point, 11-board, 11-dime effort in 1997. But in that game, MJ had Glen Rice shooting everybody’s faces off for the East. LeBron needed more help. Boston’s Big Four were in chill mode when they were on the court, Bosh was basically being himself, and D-Wade left in the third quarter with an ankle injury. Amar’e Stoudemire (29 points) was one of the only guys reaching LeBron’s level … It’s funny how Kobe used to get criticized for taking the All-Star Game too seriously, but now everybody loves how LeBron brought out the playoff-style intensity going into crunch time. Is that a double standard, or has Kobe over the years actually made the concept of working hard cool again? … So did Doc Rivers keep LeBron on the floor all night because he was trying to win, or because Doc was trying to tire him out? That’s if he gets tired. Late in the fourth, LeBron had probably the loudest tomahawk dunk we’ve ever seen in a game after one of his patented 100-mph fullcourt rushes … You know at the next Nets practice, Avery Johnson is going to remind Brook Lopez that KG pulled down 5 rebounds in only 7 minutes of All-Star action. And Brook is going to have no comeback … After all the arguing among fans and media over Kevin Love‘s All-Star merits, he finished with 2 points and 4 rebounds. We’re not saying K-Love shouldn’t have been an All-Star, because he deserved it, but would anyone have complained if JaVale McGee or Serge Ibaka took his spot when it actually came time to play? … strong>David Stern’s Dark, Beautiful, Twisted Fantasy of a halftime show — Rihanna, Drake and Kanye West — had potential. Rihanna’s live singing needs about as much work as Hedo Turkoglu‘s interview skills, but it’s not like any guy was watching her for that reason. Drake dropped in for a half-a-song and was gone just as quickly, and Kanye of course had his own ridiculously extravagant entrance while rocking some red leather pants borrowed from Michael Jackson‘s estate. Still, the crowd was more into the concert than they were into the game, and it was WAY better than the Super Bowl halftime show with the Black Eyed Peas … Could there have been a more awkward moment in the pre-game show than Diddy arguing the NBA needs to change the rookie All-Star ruling in order to allow Blake Griffin to play? Everyone wanted to correct him, but weren’t sure if they should. Diddy should just drink his Cambodian milk and let somebody else talk basketball … Whose idea was it to schedule an LSU/Florida game for 1 p.m. Eastern yesterday? You’ve got a basketball game in Louisiana going head-to-head against the start time of the Daytona 500? There were maybe 1,000 people in LSU’s gym at tip-off … We’re out like D-Wade …