Durant, Griffin make West the NBA's best

ORLANDO, Fla. -- In a game that consisted of 42 dunks, Blake Griffin saved the best for last.

With the West trying to hold off the East, Griffin hammered home a vicious dunk in traffic with 37 seconds left to give the West a three-point cushion. From there, the West withstood a pair of potential game-tying 3-point shots by Deron Williams and Dwyane Wade to nip to East 152-149 in the annual NBA All-Star Game on Sunday night at the Amway Center.

Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant poured in 36 points in 37 minutes and was named the game's Most Valuable Player. Durant was 14 of 25 from the field, including 3 of 8 from beyond the 3-point arc.

"It's just exciting to be named an All-Star, but to step it up another level and become MVP, it's only something that as a kid you dream about," Durant said. "Coming from where I come from, I didn't think I would be here."

While the West celebrated, once again LeBron James showed that he's not cut out to be making crucial decisions with the game on the line.

After Kobe Bryant made 1-of-2 free throws, leaving the West up 151-149, Williams grabbed a rebound after he misfired on a 27-footer. The ball eventually ended up in James' hands.

But instead of possibly working for a game-tying -- or game-winning basket -- James threw an ill-advised silly pass into a crowd of players, and the ball was stolen by Griffin with six seconds left.

Griffin converted 1-of-2 free throws with 1.1 seconds left, and Wade's desperation 3-pointer from the left corner as time expired missed.

"I seen my teammate open for a split second," said James, who had 36 points and seven assists. "I told him I seen him open the first time and I didn't release the ball.

"When I tried to throw it late, that's what usually happens and it results in a turnover. Definitely wish I could have that one back."

Playing in his 11th straight All-Star game, Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki left the game for good with 9:45 remaining and the West ahead, 133-116. Nowitzki collected seven points on 3-of-8 shooting, and also finished with four rebounds and one assist in 14 minutes.

The West led by as much as 21 points -- and by 88-69 at halftime -- before a late East charge.

The game got chippy early in the third period when Wade bloodied Bryant's nose on a hard foul.

"I obviously didn't try to draw no blood, but I took a foul," said Wade, who had a triple-double with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. "Kobe fouled me two times in a row, so he's still got one up on me."

A steal and layup by Williams got the East within 148-147. But Wade then turned the ball over after he was ahead of the field for what would have been a fast break dunk with 1:15 remaining.

Griffin then missed a 30-footer as the shot clock was about to expire, with Durant grabbing the crucial offensive rebound for the West. After Russell Westbrook missed a shot, Griffin stormed through the lane, snatched the rebound and aggressively dunked it home -- all in one motion -- to give the West a 150-147 lead.

But the night belonged to Durant, the former Texas Longhorn.

"The guy, he does a lot of things well," Oklahoma City and West coach Scott Brooks said. "But the thing I love about him is he comes in every day and gets his work in, whether he has a big night or a night that wasn't so well."

On Sunday, Durant turned in a performance that he will never forget.

Dwain Price, 817-390-7760

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