The weekend in New Orleans was about much more than spectacular dunks, a game featuring marginal defense or collecting strings of beads while strolling down boozy Bourbon Street. The NBA came to the Big Easy hoping to help this special city continue its comeback from Hurricane Katrina, the effects of which are still being felt years since she blasted through.
Last year, the West humiliated the East in a 153-132 rout in Las Vegas when Kobe Bryant and Co. rewrote the event's record books. However, this time led by Allen's 14 fourth-quarter points and a stunning dunk by James with 55 seconds left, the East salvaged some pride and can return to the season's second half with bragging rights.
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Amare Stoudemire, Brandon Roy and Carmelo Anthony scored 18 points apiece to lead the West, which trailed by 13 entering the fourth quarter and rallied behind New Orleans' Chris Paul. The guard's seventh assist of the final period set up Roy's layup to give the West a 122-119 lead. But Boston's Allen, the final player added to either roster, knocked down his second 3-pointer in 48 seconds to tie it before Paul answered with a 3 of his own, sending the hometown crowd into a frenzy.
Allen finally missed and James poked away the ball, and then came up with the night's most stirring moment. Slashing through the lane, Cleveland's megastar rose and dunked over several West defenders, much like he did in Game 5 of last year's Eastern Conference finals in Detroit when he scored the Cavaliers' final 25 points.