Kevin Durant's powerhouse display proved pivotal in the NBA All-Star game, says Martin Henlan
Last Updated: 18/02/13 11:18am
West meets East
Kevin Durant's powerhouse performance proved the difference as the Western Conference beat the Eastern Conference 143-138 in the NBA All-Star game, says Martin Henlan.
Durant, the NBA's leading scorer and the 2012 All-Star game MVP, poured on 30 points while Blake Griffin weighed in with 19 of his own in Houston to dump the East.
The West's Chris Paul was named MVP for his 20 points and 15 assists but Henlan, part of Great Britain's Olympics Team in 1988 and '92, said Durant's versatility was crucial.
"He carried the scoring load and gave the fans what they wanted - some of those flying dunks that nobody gets in the way of," Henlan told Sky Sports.
"What I liked about the West's team performance as a whole was that once Durant had established himself as the scoring threat, then the other guys just picked up and filled in the spaces."
"What I liked about the West's team performance as a whole was that once Durant had established himself as the scoring threat, then the other guys just picked up and filled in the spaces.
"Kobe Bryant forsook his offensive game and became the best defender on the floor. That was where the West had the edge over the East."
Fellow Sky Sports pundit, England international Karl Brown added: "Durant played exceptionally well. He not only drove to the basket, with highlight dunks, but his three-point shooting and his energy, running up and down the floor, was exceptional - as was his rebounding."
Guard Paul - the first LA Clippers player to win the all-star MVP - was pivotal to the West's all-round game, despite the best efforts of the East's Kyrie Irving, who also impressed Henlan.
"They were having a bit of a ding-dong battle there and clearly the 'veteran' Paul dominated and won through. But Irving showed that he is not for lying down - he will be back."
Brown added: "I liked the way Paul just let him know who was the master. He was not only playing on the offensive, he was guarding Irving and he was taking him to the rack and that's what I liked.
"He was using his physical strength and he used his mind to go by Irving, but he will be back."
Carmelo Anthony, of the New York Knicks, led the way for the Eastern Conference All Stars with 26 points but it was the efficient performance of Dwayne Wade (21 points) that caught Brown's eye.
"He quietly got 21 points - we didn't recognise that he had quite that many," said Brown. "I liked the way that he played on the offensive and defensive; he got the rim, assisted and defended."
Henlan echoed those views, saying: "This season Wade has learnt how to pick his spots. He has an almost 'kamikaze' way of playing the game in the past. He throws his body around - he's played with bruised and cracked ribs before, and when his shoulder or knee has gone.
"Now he plays in spurts and what is really escalating his game is spacing on the floor - he finds the right spot to be in when the pass is ready to be delivered, so he is a finisher. He's not so much of a creator anymore.
"The Miami Heat are reaping the rewards of that."
Watch the Golden State Warriors take on the Minnesota Timberwolves live this Sunday from 8.30pm on Sky Sports 3 HD.